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Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Three special new hats have been only added to Team Fortress 2, but only three--ever. These "one-of-a-kind" hats move from player to player each day, going to, essentially, whoever's willing to spend the most money on various items in TF2's in-game store.

The Dueler, Philateler and Gifting Man From Gifting Land hats will change ownership each day, being rewarded to the players won the most duels, bought the most Map Stamps, and gave the most gifts, respectively, the day before.

While the duel items can be given as random drops, Valve also sells them in the Mann Co. store, and Stamps and gifts can only be bought. Conspicuous consumption has never been so fetching!

"Presumably wearing these one-of-a-kind hats will make the winners feel like they've achieved something. Or not, I could give a damn. So long as they make you all better killing machines," The Administrator explains in a blog post.

The update also added Strange Parts, letting players customise Strange weapons so they track more than simply kills. The new parts track stats including buildings destroyed, airborne enemies killed, and projectiles reflected. They're only found in dropped crates, which you'll need to buy keys to open.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Three special new hats have been added to Team Fortress 2, but only three--ever. These "one-of-a-kind" hats move from player to player each day, going to, essentially, whoever's willing to spend the most money on various items in TF2's in-game store.

The Dueler, Philateler and Gifting Man From Gifting Land hats will change ownership each day, being rewarded to the players won the most duels, bought the most Map Stamps, and gave the most gifts, respectively, the day before.

While the duel items can be given as random drops, Valve also sells them in the Mann Co. store, and Stamps and gifts can only be bought. Conspicuous consumption has never been so fetching!

"Presumably wearing these one-of-a-kind hats will make the winners feel like they've achieved something. Or not, I could give a damn. So long as they make you all better killing machines," The Administrator explains in a blog post.

The update also added Strange Parts, letting players customise Strange weapons so they track more than simply kills. The new parts track stats including buildings destroyed, airborne enemies killed, and projectiles reflected. They're only found in dropped crates, which you'll need to buy keys to open.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Portal 2 started off as a very different game: one without Chell, GLaDOS, or even portals. Speaking at Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Valve writers Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw talked about the many concepts they had to throw away before they crafted the game that ended up being one of the best games of 2011.

For example, what's that above? It's a rare look at the game's canned competitive multiplayer mode. "While it's fun for about two seconds to drop portals under people and things like that," Wolpaw explained. "It quickly just devolves into pure chaos."

An alternate intro to the game

The original concept for Portal 2 featured a different main character, but the concept behind how the game would start was largely the same. Here, the player is waking up in a gorgeous environment designed to look like paradise--but it quickly falls apart in The Truman Show-fashion, revealing that the player has been trapped in a relaxation chamber for an unknown period of time.

Betty replaced GLaDOS

Before deciding on reviving GLaDOS for the sequel, Valve explored setting Portal 2 in the past. It would be a prequel without portals, one where Aperture Science's Cave Johnson would be the villain. Without an ominous robotic overlord threatening your life, Valve played with a number of ideas for robotic partners--like Betty, seen above.

Co-op had players retrieving human artifacts

The co-op story was also different. Originally set after the events of Portal 2, GLaDOS originally sent the robotic pair on quests to find human "artifacts" in order to become more human. One such artifact was this comic, obviously inspired by Garfield.

Chell would've no longer been mute

Portal 2's original ending was quite the opposite of the astronomical finale gamers were ultimately presented. One concept had players needed to use a voice command to take back control from the game's final villain. Poking fun at Chell's apparent muteness, the game would fade to black as Chell uttered one word that would close the game--"yes."

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Several hours of Steam downtime on Sunday left poor PC gamers unable to play their Steam games, caused by a power failure at Valve's data center. Initial reports suggest some of the desperate afflicted resorted to archaic and torturous forms of Sunday afternoon entertainment, including taking a stroll in the countryside, imbibing ale in a pub, and conversing with loved ones.

"Our data center's uninterruptible power supplies experienced a power failure," Valve's Al Farnsworth explained on the Steam forums. "We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."

Over 5 million Steam users were online when the troubles began at around 10:30am Pacific on Sunday. Some members of our fine Shacknews community reported not being able to use any part of Steam, while others could apparently still play games. The servers were back up and running by about 2:20pm.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences held its Interactive Achievement Awards at DICE last night, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim took home the Game of the Year prize, among four other awards. The game also won RPG of the year, and outstanding achievements for story, gameplay engineering, and gameplay direction.

Uncharted 3 and Portal 2 each walked away with three awards. Uncharted won a set of technical awards (visual engineering, art direction, animation), while Portal 2 won varied awards for music composition, character performance, and connectivity.

Bastion from newcomer Supergiant Games won the Downloadable crown, while Fruit Ninja Kinect and Infinity Blade 2 won best casual and mobile game, respectively.

"Each year the Interactive Achievement Awards sees the top minds and personas of our industry coming together to not only celebrate, but recognize one another for the achievements of the year," said academy president Martin Rae in the announcement. "2011 produced an outstanding number of fantastic games in all areas of the industry - console, PC, social and mobile - we are truly witnessing a new golden age of gaming."

Check out the full breakdown of winners below.

  • Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition - Portal 2

  • Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design - Battlefield 3

  • Outstanding Achievement in Story - Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

  • Outstanding Character Performance - Portal 2 (Wheatley)

  • Downloadable Title of the Year - Bastion

  • Casual Game of the Year - Fruit Ninja Kinect

  • Social Networking Game of the Year - The Sims Social

  • Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Online Game of the Year - Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

  • Outstanding Innovation in Gaming - Skylanders Spyro's Adventure

  • Sports Game of the Year - FIFA 12

  • Racing Game of the Year - Forza Motorsport 4

  • Fighting Game of the Year - Mortal Kombat

  • Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year - Orcs Must Die!

  • Family Game of the Year - LittleBigPlanet 2

  • Mobile Game of the Year - Infinity Blade II

  • Handheld Game of the Year - Super Mario 3D Land

  • Adventure Game of the Year - Batman: Arkham City

  • Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay - Star Wars: The Old Republic

  • Outstanding Achievement in Connectivity - Portal 2

  • Action Game of the Year - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

  • Outstanding Achievement in Animation - Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

  • Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction - Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

  • Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering - Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

  • Outstanding Achievement in Gameplay Engineering - Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

  • Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction - Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

  • Game of the Year - Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

In spite of having released in 2007, Valve is continuing to update Team Fortress 2, its cartoony team-based multiplayer shooter. Last year, the developer announced a surprising change to a F2P model--but what's next?

The developer isn't saying much, simply promising "something brand new for 2012" that "isn't a hat" and "isn't a map."

The Team Fortress 2 blog jokes that "the TF2 team is working on some ungodly hat-map hybrid that you can wear on your head while you run around in it." So, an Inception-themed expansion pack, right? We kid, of course.

Whatever this game-changing update will be, Valve promises it will be "really cool." To check out all the updates Team Fortress 2 has received since launch, click here.

Shacknews - Shack Staff

With Portal, Valve took the mechanic of shooting--something we're very familiar with--and used it in a whole new fashion. Using a gun that opened portals, Valve created a geometry-based puzzle game, the object of which was to use the openings to navigate increasingly challenging test chambers. With that starting point established, Portal 2 hits the ground running.

Portal 2 tricks you into thinking you'd never leave the unfriendly confines of the Aperture Science labs. Then the game blossoms, blowing down the very walls needed for its portals and opens up into a fantastic adventure. Breaking out of the test chambers feels liberating, answering the question: "what could I do with this portal gun in the world outside a test chamber?"

Peeking behind the curtain at Aperture Science offered an intellectual story that fits the puzzling pace just right. It's fun sci-fi, just campy enough, without becoming so silly it can't be taken seriously.

The crowning achievement of Portal 2 is its co-op mode. Working with a second player more than just doubled the complexity of the game. Solving a puzzle with a friend offered the same surprising, euphoric feel of the original Portal. For that feeling alone, Portal 2 stands as one of the high points of 2011.


The Shacknews 2011 Game of the Year awards are based on a weighted scoring system between all staff writers and editors [here's how it works!]. Last week we revealed our "Honorable Mentions," which include the titles that did not quite make our overall 'Top Five Games of the Year.' This week we reveal that Top Five list, with our Overall Game of the Year award being announced on January 20.

Shacknews - Xav de Matos

When you see a post containing the words "Team Fortress 2" and "headgear," you probably don't expect to see Saints Row: The Third sharing in the story. Today, THQ and Valve have announced that Team Fortress 2-inspired lids are coming to the PC version of the game.

Headgear that resemebles each of Team Fortress 2's characters will be added to the Steam version of Saints Row: The Third on Tuesday, January 17. The free update allows players to run through the streets of Steelport (clothing optional) disgused as their favorite character from Valve's free-to-play shooter.

"After a fair amount of back and forth with us and Valve, we're now ready to present the final chapter in our cross-promotion with Team Fortress 2. For those unfamilar with this, if you had pre-ordered TF2 on Steam, you received Killbane's Mask and Apocafists for the Heavy, and a special Third Street Saints Badge for every character," a post on the official Saints Row: The Third website revealed. "But that got us thinking about the best way to put TF2 into Saints Row: The Third, so we've come up with the following."

Sounds like a fun idea, but it's a shame that this marks the end of the Valve cross-promotion with THQ because we were really holding out hope for some Gabe Newell-inspired gear.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences released its list of nominees for this years Interactive Achievement Awards. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception leads with a dozen nominations, and shares a Game of the Year nod with Portal 2, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Batman: Arkham City, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

GameSpot reports that Drake's latest outing isn't quite to the levels set by Uncharted 2 in 2010, which earned 15 nominations. Portal 2 earned 10 nominations, while L.A. Noire followed with nine nominations -- but no GOTY nod.

This will mark the 15th Interactive Achievement Awards, to be held on Thursday, February 9 at the D.I.C.E. Sumit in Las Vegas. Check out the full list of nominations at the link above. Plus, be sure to check out our own ongoing Shacknews GOTY reveals, and keep up with our Staff Favorites that didn't make the cut.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The 12th annual Game Developers Choice Awards nominees were announced today, providing nods to some of last year's greatest games. Three studios shared a tie for the most nominations: Bethesda for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Valve for Portal 2, and newcomer Supergiant Games for Bastion. Skyrim and Portal 2 received five nominations each, while Bastion received four and the studio itself was nominated for Best Debut.

Sharing Game of the Year nominations with Portal 2 and Skyrim were Batman: Arkham City, Dark Souls, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Winners will be chosen by a group of 500 industry professionals and announced at the 2012 Game Developers Conference on March 7.

Check out the full list of nominees below.

Best Game Design

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios)

  • Dark Souls (FromSoftware)

Innovation

  • Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (Toys For Bob)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik)

  • L.A. Noire (Team Bondi)

Best Technology

  • Battlefield 3 (DICE)

  • L.A. Noire (Team Bondi)

  • Crysis 2 (Crytek Frankfurt/UK)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)

Best Handheld/Mobile Game

  • Tiny Tower (NimbleBit)

  • Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo)

  • Jetpack Joyride (Halfbrick)

  • Infinity Blade II (Chair Entertainment)

  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Capy Games/Superbrothers)

Best Audio

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • LittleBigPlanet 2 (Media Molecule)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • Dead Space 2 (Visceral Games)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

Best Downloadable Game

  • Stacking (Double Fine)

  • From Dust (Ubisoft Montpellier)

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • Outland (Housemarque)

  • Frozen Synapse (Mode 7)

Best Narrative

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • The Witcher 2 (CD Projekt RED)

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)

  • Saints Row: The Third (Volition)

Best Debut

  • Supergiant Games (Bastion)

  • Team Bondi (L.A. Noire)

  • Re-Logic (Terraria)

  • BioWare Austin (Star Wars: The Old Republic)

  • Eidos Montreal (Deus Ex: Human Revolution)

Best Visual Arts

  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)

  • Rayman Origins (Ubisoft Montpellier)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (Ignition Japan)

  • Battlefield 3 (DICE)

Game of the Year

  • Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal)

  • Dark Souls (FromSoftware)

...

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