Product Update - Valve
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:

  • Added The Robo-Sandvich, The Festive Sandvich, The Festive Buff Banner, and The Festive Huntsman to the list of items allowed in Medieval mode
  • The Prize Plushy can now get assists in Pyrovision
  • Fixed a server crash caused by players bleeding to death
  • Fixed spectator bots picking up the bomb in Mann Vs. Machine
  • Fixed The Bazaar Bargain counting crit-boosted body-shots as headshots
  • Fixed The Festive Holy Mackerel using the wrong sounds
  • Fixed Strange Buff Banner and Strange Sandvich not always tracking usage
  • Fixed seeing the fire texture on The Soldier's Stogie in DirectX 8
  • Fixed missing style names for The Barnstormer
  • Fixed the achievement "The Great Deflate" not counting certain Balloonicorn and Reindoonicorn items
  • Updated paint effects for The Hot Dogger, The Salty Dog, The Counterfeit Billycock, and The Cold Killer
  • Updated the localization files
TF2 Blog
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:
  • Added The Robo-Sandvich, The Festive Sandvich, The Festive Buff Banner, and The Festive Huntsman to the list of items allowed in Medieval mode
  • The Prize Plushy can now get assists in Pyrovision
  • Fixed a server crash caused by players bleeding to death
  • Fixed spectator bots picking up the bomb in Mann Vs. Machine
  • Fixed The Bazaar Bargain counting crit-boosted body-shots as headshots
  • Fixed The Festive Holy Mackerel using the wrong sounds
  • Fixed Strange Buff Banner and Strange Sandvich not always tracking usage
  • Fixed seeing the fire texture on The Soldier's Stogie in DirectX 8
  • Fixed missing style names for The Barnstormer
  • Fixed the achievement "The Great Deflate" not counting certain Balloonicorn and Reindoonicorn items
  • Updated paint effects for The Hot Dogger, The Salty Dog, The Counterfeit Billycock, and The Cold Killer
  • Updated the localization files
Kotaku

YouTube user Marflus1 has created this musical gem, which is described as follows:


An Arrangement of "Still Alive" from Portal, produced using the Wintersday Bell and Pipe Organ in Guild Wars 2, a little bit of pitch editing in Audacity, and an awful lot of time in Adobe Premiere Pro.


Whatever it takes!


Marflus1 previously figured out how to wring "Billie Jean" out of Guild Wars 2.


Portal's "Still Alive" in Guild Wars 2 [YouTube]


PC Gamer
TF2-free-thumb


Valve will be delivering two talks at the next Game Developers Conference in March. No, you can stop swinging your replica Gordon Freeman crowbar with joy - both sessions will focus on the developer's work in the field of VR and wearable computing. One of them, titled "What We Learned Porting Team Fortress 2 to Virtual Reality," suggests that Valve have been attempting to port Team Fortress 2 to Virtual Reality. Granted, it's a subtle hint.

The talk will focus on the problems Valve have faced in the development of the port. According to the session description, "Several people at Valve spent the past year exploring various forms of wearable computing. The wearable effort included porting Team Fortress 2 to run in virtual reality goggles. This session will describe lessons learned from Valve's porting experience."

"Topics covered include an overview of what stereo support entails, rendering 2D user interface in a 90 degree field of view display, dealing with view models and other rendering shortcuts, and how mouselook can interact with head tracking in a first person shooter."

Valve's wearable computing genius Michael Abrash will also be hosting a talk, called 'Why Virtual Reality is Hard (And Where it Might be Going).' That both events focus on the challenges of VR gaming suggests the dream of the 1980s isn't as easy to obtain as they may have hoped, but Valve seem peculiarly dedicated to making it a reality.

Of course, this is no guarantee that a VR version of TF2 will be commercially available any time soon. But who knows, one day that Killer Exclusive on your head might seem close enough to touch.
PC Gamer
face off buying games


The hurricane of savings that's swirled over PC gaming in the past few years has been tremendous. Deep discounts seem to pop up weekly on digital stores like Amazon, GOG.com, and Steam. But should the ubiquity of sales fundamentally change our buying habits?

In this Face Off debate, Logan argues that waiting for a sales gets you get a more refined product at a cheaper price. But Evan thinks that waiting too long denies you the best-possible experience, especially in multiplayer games.

Jump over to the next page for more opinions from the PC Gamer community, and make your own arguments in the comments. Debate team captains: it’s your time to shine.

Logan: Nope. Hanging on to your cash for a while—a few months, a year, or whenever you’ve caught up with that backlog that’s been building up—buys you a game that’s had its bugs squashed, costs far less on sale, and probably even runs better on your machine. Remind me what the downside is again?

Evan: We play games to have great experiences, right? In most cases those experiences diminish in value over time. Technology ages. Stories are spoiled. Sequels outdo their predecessors. I’m not advocating against the ridiculous sales we’ve seen in recent years, but looking back, being needlessly frugal would've denied me some of my most precious gaming experiences. Playing Left 4 Dead every night after work in October ‘08 with my friends was so special because we were mutually discovering the game together. I can’t put a price tag on that.

Logan: OK, let’s be clear here: I don’t think buying games at launch is a bad thing. You can bet your pet headcrab that I won’t be waiting for Half-Life 3 to hit the discount bin. What I’m saying is that with a little patience (and, sure, some deft spoiler-dodging), you get a better experience at a far lower price. Sure, you miss out on being a part of the conversation when a game launches. Like how pissed off people were about the save-corrupting bugs in The Walking Dead series, which to the best of my knowledge were fixed by the time you could buy the entire season during the Steam Winter Sale for half-price at $12.50!

Evan: Oh, whatever. If you wait until a game is bugless, you’ll be waiting forever. The Walking Dead was more than playable at launch—we gave it a 90. The conversations I had with friends about that game (and Mass Effect, and Far Cry 3, and XCOM) are worth so much more to me than $12—it’s a lesser game without that.

I think you’re overstating the impact that launch issues actually have. Other than Diablo III and, I don’t know, Sword of the Stars II last year, when were games unacceptably broken at launch? If I was picking up Diablo III now—assuming I could actually twist a friend’s arm to reroll a new character—that pristine experience of grinding our first dungeons together and feeling caught up in something new together would be gone.

Beyond that, I think we should be mindful that our purchases have a real and actual impact on developers. Last year, Rockstar Vancouver, Big Huge, Black Hole, 38 Studios and Paragon Studios closed. Great games don’t exist unless we support them.

Logan: You’re being hysterical. It’s not just about bugs and launch issues. It’s about enjoying a smoother ride overall, and getting stuff like new features and levels to boot!

Evan: Listen, all I’m asking you to consider is this: How many indie developers’ malnourished babies are you personally responsible for?

Logan: I am not a baby malnourisher. I don’t want to deprive developers of handsome profits. In fact, I wish I had a leaf blower that blew cash into their windows. It’s just that I—like most gamers—have a limited budget. Buying games at a discount means that I can buy more games. And feed more babies.

Look, developers who don’t want to discount their games simply won’t do so. But most do put their games on sale because, ultimately, it makes them more money.

Evan: My imaginary leaf blower also shoots money. Waiting months to buy something isn’t universally the best budget decision if you’re passionate about a game. It’s actually becoming more prevalent for pre-orders to provide incentives or actual savings over the retail price. In the case of free-to-play games like MechWarrior Online and Tribes: Ascend, putting money down before release got me extra in-game currency, extra content, and immediate access. Multi-copy packs are also usually a great deal—in Borderlands 2’s case, you could get four copies for the price of three at launch, something that’s much harder to do after release.

Logan: Oh, yeah, pre-order bonuses can be great deals too, and the Borderlands 2 promotion was a pretty smart way to get cheapskates like me to pony up before launch. But these are exceptions to a general rule of thumb that’s indisputable: if you can wait it out, you’ll almost always get a better product for less money. Any way that you legitimately purchase a game is supporting the developer. If you insist that supporting a developer means paying more than you have to, then I think that what you’re talking about is a contribution, or charity.

Evan: Waiting for patches might give you a less buggy game, but I don’t think you’ll necessarily get a better experience, which is what you’re paying for. Sure, EA made Battlefield 1942 free last year, but replaying it years removed from its popularity wasn’t fun for me at all. Moreso than film or books, games age. Hopping into Battlefield 3 now—just 14 months after release—and you’d miss out on the volcano of enthusiasm, shared discovery, and level playing field in the metagame that existed at launch.

There’s always going to be several games a year where I’m going to want to be there on day one. If you wait four or five months—about as long as it typically takes to shed 25% off something on Steam—or longer, you’ll have missed out on that.

Logan: But remember, games acquire new fans when they’re discounted or go free-to-play. Solution: make new friends.

Evan: Or we could get everyone we know to wait six months to buy a game.

For more opinions on PC gaming, follow Logan, Evan, and PC Gamer on Twitter. On the next page: more opinions from the community.



For more perspectives, we've poured out some of your thoughts from the bucket of opinion known as Twitter below.

@pcgamer It depends on if they're $60 triple A titles for me. $60 is too much for most games, especially after last year's disappointments.— Coalton Ross (@Coalton) January 14, 2013

@pcgamer If you're a fan of the game, the series, the studio, etc...then yes, it's your job as a fan to positively reinforce great work.— Kevin Robertson (@krobulous) January 14, 2013

@pcgamer To anyone who has any sort of budgeting they should never buy on release date. Waiting for a sale is the only way.— Ryan Melanson (@RyePunk) January 14, 2013

@pcgamer established franchises or series yes (elder scrolls), New and unproven games wait for more info and reviews.— Now Hiring Henchmen (@HiringHenchmen) January 15, 2013

@pcgamer It's definitely difficult to see the game you paid $60 for be repackaged with extras for the same or lower price < 12 months later.— James Schumacher (@JamesInDigital) January 14, 2013

@pcgamer On the other hand, being swept up in the ARG and playing the heck out of Portal 2 was a delightful experience.— S Wilkins (@ElAcordeonachi) January 14, 2013

@pcgamer Multiplatform/console port multiplayer games are better at launch however. They're most fun when the playing field is very equal.— Jason (@TeslasButler) January 15, 2013

@pcgamer depends if I trust the developer enough to deliver a good product. I rarely buy into the hype anymore. Burned too badly in the past— Wim (@Quercuas) January 15, 2013

@pcgamer overpriced on release, wait a week, don't follow the hype— TFB (@tf_blackjack) January 15, 2013
Kotaku

Dead Island Shouldn't Be The Only Game That Comes With A Severed Torso Statue By now you've probably seen the ridiculous bikini-clad severed torso that publisher Deep Silver is packaging with the European/Australian special edition of zombie action-RPG Dead Island: Riptide.


It is gross and awful—to the point where Deep Silver just issued an apology for the statue—but hey, why let them have all the fun? We've put together some Severed Torso Special Editions for a handful of other deserving video games.


Above: the Portal turret gets the torso treatment.



Dead Island Shouldn't Be The Only Game That Comes With A Severed Torso Statue


Torso Mario isn't quite as useful as Raccoon Mario or even Frog Mario, but he's still an integral part of any statue collector's inventory.


Dead Island Shouldn't Be The Only Game That Comes With A Severed Torso Statue


There's nothing like cuddling up with a Cortana torso after a long night of shooting space aliens and getting called racial slurs on Xbox Live.


Dead Island Shouldn't Be The Only Game That Comes With A Severed Torso Statue


Dante from Devil May Cry apparently has no penis. Now he also has no arms or legs or head.


Dead Island Shouldn't Be The Only Game That Comes With A Severed Torso Statue


"Reach for the sky!" says Sheriff Woody in Disney Infinity. "Unless you have no arms!"


Dead Island Shouldn't Be The Only Game That Comes With A Severed Torso Statue


This lovely Princess Peach torso ain't gonna save itself.


Your turn, Kotaku Photoshoppers. What other games do you think need special torso editions?


Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Craig Pearson)

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?The hand of Hale giveth, the hand of Hale taketh away. And then it probably punches something. That wacky, violent Australian. In a strange move for a game that’s built around the notion that people want to buy hats, Team Fortress 2 is retiring some of its headgear from sale, drops, unboxing, and even crafting. The only way to get them is through trading. I guess that’ll include the Steam Marketplace as well. What hats, you ask? Well, unless you click this link, the only way to find out is to look below. There is literally no other option. I’d prefer you went below. I have a treat waiting for you if you do. (more…)

Shacknews - Steve Watts

"Return to Ravenholm," aka "Half-Life 2: Episode 4," was a Half-Life 2 episode set in the spooky abandoned town. It's been canceled for a few years now, but we've gotten a better look at the game that could have been thanks to some new concept art and animation tests. It was in development at Dishonored developer Arkane Studios around 2006, but was ultimately scrapped.

Valvetime revealed the new shots, with Rock Paper Shotgun's Craig Pearson confirming their authenticity. According to Valve's Marc Laidlaw, the project had been canceled because the defining qualities of Ravenholm (headcrabs and zombies) were feeling "played out," and the game's placement in the timeline of the other episodes was a "creative constraint." But if you're curious to see the small bits remaining of the project, check out the video below.

Kotaku

For years now, there have been rumors and reports of a now-cancelled Half-Life 2 episode called Half-Life 2: Return to Ravenholm. The project, an overview of which can be found at the Combine Overwiki, was to be a collaboration between Valve and Dishonored-makers Arkane, and would, presumably, take players back to the creepy, zombie-infested village of Ravenholm. The existence and cancellation of Return to Ravenholm was confirmed by Valve's Marc Laidlaw in January of last year.


The folks at ValveTime have posted what they claim to be some new unearthed prototype screenshots from the long-cancelled project. They've compiled them into the video above, as well. For clarity's sake: These screens are old, and no one has any reason to think the project has been un-cancelled or anything like that.


Alleged Screenshots Surface Of A Long-Cancelled Half Life 2 Episode Alleged Screenshots Surface Of A Long-Cancelled Half Life 2 Episode Alleged Screenshots Surface Of A Long-Cancelled Half Life 2 Episode Alleged Screenshots Surface Of A Long-Cancelled Half Life 2 Episode


Seeing as how the images come from an unconfirmed (by us) source and the game apparently never got very far into development, I'd suggest taking them with a grain of salt. I've reached out to both Arkane and Valve to ask about their authenticity, and will update if I hear back. Still... absorption? Interesting.


It wouldn't be an article about Half-Life unless I closed with some sort of Half-Life 3 joke, so… no, you know what? This one time I'm not gonna do it.


New Images of Half-life 2: Episode 4 / Return to Ravenholm [ValveTime, thanks Glenn]


TF2 Blog
Kritzkast is throwing a 12 hour Team Fortress 2 livestream on Saturday fundraising for Cancer Research UK. 12 hours! During the fundraiser various Team Fortress personalities will be making an appearance throughout the event. More details can be found here.

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