Community Announcements - [TW]Yoshiro
Today's release is a optimization pass only. There is no update to servers.

- Occlusion performance is improved, especially when indoors and/or using a sniper scope
- Changes to audio memory usage. PCs with lots of memory (3 GB, 64 bit OS) will use up more system memory but this should reduce hitching and improve performance for some users.
Community Announcements - [TW]Yoshiro
To start off, some of you may have noticed the KF Halloween event has come to an end. And do I hear jingling not to far off in the distance?

As to Red Orchestra 2, work continues on all fronts. We are investigating the stutter/micro stutter issue. We have some early promising results and are testing some things now to improve the situation. We continue to work on other performance improvements, but this should be the first one to make it out the door in the near future.

Work has also been done on improving the Occlusion quality system resulting in better performance when using the lower settings. The most improvement will be seen when using sniper scopes.

As far as maps go, we have made changes to maps to work on the spawn camping issue that many players are reporting. The level design team has also balanced out the role availability differences between infantry only and combined arms maps.

Last but not least we are nearing the end of the beta stage of our SDK and will release it to all RO 2 owners with code publishing support.

As to the future, we are working on the features that did not make launch including Multiplayer Campaign and several additional clan match systems. The design team is also taking in community feedback and is looking at potential changes to gameplay. We'll have more on this in the future as more gets done on these.
Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 66% off The Ball

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!


PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad review">Red Orchestra 2 review thumb

Red Orchestra 2 is the best murder simulator I’ve ever played. It’s not the best first-person shooter or multiplayer game, or even the best team-based multiplayer game. It’s certainly not the best World War II game, and its singleplayer is the worst I’ve played in years. But in the killing, and in the being killed, Red Orchestra 2 is a terrifying and satisfying experience.

Let’s talk about you for a minute. You’re a soldier in either Hitler or Stalin’s army, and you’re shit-scared. You’ve got your back against the wall in a room with one door, two windows and three walls, and you’re peeking around a corner into the exposed core of a half-destroyed building. Every room could conceal an enemy soldier, and you’ve died a hundred times already, always from that one angle you didn’t check.

Looking down through the rubble, you see an enemy soldier break from behind a wall. You aim and fire in a single motion. You’ve shot him and now he’s dead. It’s exactly like a million other games, but it feels nothing like any other game. It’s the little things that make the difference, such as the sound of your own breathing when you lifted the rifle to your face, and the way it bobbed slightly in your hands. It’s in the mark on your enemy’s chest where the bullet hit, and the way his blood spritzed from his back, marking that bullet’s exit. It’s in the way he fell, forced by some terrible weight. Sometimes, but not this time, it would be the way he clutches his stomach, yelling in Russian, or the way he fires his machinegun madly during his last few seconds of life.



At some point, the developers of Red Orchestra 2 realised that if the primary interaction in your game is killing, then you should probably make the killing feel incredible. It’s this attention to detail that turns an otherwise ordinary game, a slightly more realistic Battlefield, into something great, with Soviets fighting Nazis across mother Russia.

Take the game modes, for example. The most popular is Territory, in which one team starts in control of a map’s capturable points and the enemy must take them. In this mode, reinforcements spawn every 20 seconds or so, and on maps designed to support 64 players it does a fine job of focusing attention on the shifting frontline. But it did the same in Battlefield 2, where it was called Conquest mode. Countdown mode has similar attack/defend objectives, but players get just one life per round, and the teams swap sides midway. No one is currently playing it. The third mode is Firefight, a team deathmatch variant which is popular, but feels as if it’s missing the point of Red Orchestra.

While the weapons feel remarkable, the classes that carry them are familiar. There’s the Assault class, with a sub-machinegun; the Marksman, with a sniper rifle; the Rifleman and Elite Rifleman; and a few others. The few inventive classes, such as Squad Leaders and Commanders, do little to change the flow of battle. Both roles have valuable abilities, but nobody follows orders on public servers.



Even tanks don’t add much to the experience. They require a whole different set of skills to use well, and have lovingly detailed interiors, but they are an easily ignored nuisance on the few maps that actually include them. On any server I’ve ever joined, the one tank-only map is the moment in the war when everyone disappears to write letters home to their mothers.

Let’s be clear: none of these things are bad, they’re just not why Red Orchestra is great. Ignore how dull the idea of another World War 2 shooter sounds, and look to the experiences RO2 provides. Again, it’s the little things that have made me play it for 25 hours in a week.

It’s creeping through the ruined buildings of Pavlov’s House, one of the best maps, and jumping every time you see a piece of paper float through the air. It’s listening to the footsteps echoing through the building, and freezing as you hear creaking on the stairs. It’s the time I rounded a corner to come face to face with a Nazi holding a grenade above his head, bayoneted him in the stomach, and then dived down some stairs to escape the blast. It’s the thrill of sprinting across an open field, enemy machinegun fire whizzing all around you.



Death in RO2 is so sudden and violent that you’re constantly on edge, an experience that’s exacerbated by all the little pieces of information the game is keeping from you.

Firstly, at a distance there’s no easy, instant way to tell if a soldier is on your side. The uniforms are distinct, but not the fluorescent green cycling jackets you need on a smoky battlefield. If you’re close to someone, looking at them, and they’re on your side, their name will appear, but often you don’t have that kind of time.

Secondly, there’s no instant kill confirmation. You’ll be fighting across the ruined tenements on the wonderful Pavlov’s House map, and you’ll spot a head in a window across the street. From the shape of the helmet, you’ll infer that it’s an enemy and fire. The head will disappear from view. Are they dead? Did you miss? Are they wounded and bandaging themselves? Is it safe to move on? You can only hope. Wherever it can, RO2 makes murky what other games want to be clear. There’s no ammo display on the HUD; you have to check the barrel for a rough estimate, or count your own shots. Realism mode, which is activated on roughly half of the servers currently running, removes certainty altogether by taking out friendly names, kill confirmations and the radar. It doesn’t make a huge difference, but I had more fun in non-realism mode.



Lastly, the heart-munching adrenaline you feel in front of your PC is mirrored in the soldier you’re controlling. When you’re stood at a window and bullets start to chip against the frame, all the colour drains from the screen, the world blurs, and your aim becomes worse than a drunk teenager in a nightclub bathroom. You need to get out of there to catch your breath, like the person who enters the bathroom after the teenager. It’s a smart way to stop camping.

All this attention to detail hasn’t prevented the game from being miserably broken. Connecting to a server frequently plops me on to a team selection screen where the buttons don’t work. The server browser refreshes only once, meaning I have to restart the game to try again. If I do successfully connect to a server, the bugs don’t stop. Sometimes when I die, I’m unable to re-spawn until I re-select my class. The XP system, which is supposed to reward you with new weapons, is completely broken, and the Steam achievements system will often reward you for things you haven’t done. At least once every two hours, on two different PCs, the game crashed entirely.

It’s like buying a beautiful dining table from eBay, having your editor help you carry it up two flights of stairs, and then discovering it has Death Watch Beetles pupating inside it. Tripwire say they are aware of the issues, and I’m confident they’ll fix them, but right now it makes playing a chore.



Less likely to be fixed any time soon are the German and Soviet singleplayer ‘campaigns’, which amount to nothing more than multiplayer matches with bots, connected by brief, animated history lessons. They would be fine, but the bot AI is more stupid than the larvae tunnelling under my dinner plates.

Let’s make a list, then. The AI soldiers are blind, and will run directly past soldiers on the enemy team without firing. They’re cripplingly indecisive, and will leap in and out of the same window over and over. If an enemy is close enough, he’ll try to melee you, but if you run backwards, he’ll chase you interminably and never fire.

I’ve seen machinegunners set up with their backs to the enemy. I’ve seen machinegunners set up on top of kitchen cabinets, facing a wall. I’ve seen soldiers run in infinite circles, unable to navigate a corner. I’ve seen enemy tanks drive forever into walls, and crash into the front of me, but never fire.

The singleplayer option appears at the top of the main menu, and to newcomers who aren’t familiar with Red Orchestra it provides a terrible introduction. It should not have been released. Ignore it.

But don’t ignore the game. By perfecting a lot of tiny, gruesome details, its developers have created an experience where killing a man is as satisfying as getting a tetris, and when I close my eyes I’m still firing rifles in my head.
Community Announcements - [TW]Yoshiro
The update we talked about from last week is ready and going out today with a couple of additions:

-Initial implementation of demorecording to support clan play and server admins
-Fixed a server crash in garbage collection that would sometimes happen when changing maps
-Fixed an animation bug causing gun sights to become misaligned
-Fixed main menu movie corruption (random green squares) when going to/from fullscreen when the startup movies are playing
-Fixed dynamic shadows for fixed MG's not being visible when deployed
-Drastically reduced occurrences of the "double ironsights" issue
-Fixed exploit where players could hide window curtains, etc. by changing their world texture group lod bias
-Fixed bullet decals being completely black in low texture settings
-Fixed black scope textures on Panzer IV
-Fixed interaction icon showing during transitions to a seat inside a tank
-Fixed object and object material popping when you start or stop sprinting
-Added showing the name of the player you are spectating on the hud
-Testing a new fix for the bug where sound would cut out on map change

Notes on Demo Recording:

First pass implementation of demorecording. This should be considered an "Alpha" implementation, as only certain functionality is hooked up. This early implementation has been created to help support clan play and help server admins finding/catching cheaters. Here is what works/doesn't:

What works:
- Basic server side demo recording: you can record a demo on a server which can be played back on a client. This demo essentially records the net traffic for the gameplay that is sent by the server and then plays it back on the clients. So when the demo is played back on a client you essentially get the same views you would have as if you were spectating a match in real time.
- Third and first person player spectating as well as viewpoint and free roam spectating
- An added "Aiming Info" toggle which will show where the spectated player is looking, and where they are aiming (which with free-aim can be two different places)
- Most sounds play
- Added displaying the specated player's name on the hud. Works with demo recording and standard spectating

What doesn't work or isn't implemented
- Rewinding
- Showing the first person weapon
- Some sounds will not playback in the demo (battlechatter)
- Have not tested with vehicles
- Client side recording
- Have not tested what the maximum length of a demo can be
- Older demos may not work properly with newer builds of the game
- Pretty much anything else

How to use it
- On the server through webadmin or through admin console commands use the command "demorec " to start recording the demo
- When you are done recording the demo through webadmin or through admin console commands use the command "demostop" to stop recording the demo
- In the ROGame\Demos folder you will find your demo files. Copy the demo file(s) to the same location on a client machine
- Start up Red Orchetra 2. At the console type "demoplay " to view the demo

This build will go live shortly. Servers will have to update.
PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to PC Gamer US Holiday issue: Diablo III, and 15 years of Diablo">PCG US Holiday 2011 - Diablo III

15 years ago, the original Diablo hacked and slashed its way into PC gaming history. Now, on the run-up to Diablo III, we take a trip to Blizzard to look back at how all began, and forward at where it’s going—including insight into the Diablo III that almost was! Plus, we’ve got Battlefield 3 sniper survival tips, a special report on what Windows 8 means for gamers, and an emergency guide to wrestling your accounts back from hackers. Then read our reviews of Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, Rage, Hard Reset, Driver: San Francisco, and more!

It's all on newsstands now! Or, if you can’t make it to the store, we’re available on Coverleaf.com and Apple Newsstand.

Community Announcements - [TW]Yoshiro
Due to an issue that came up with the Mac client of Killing Floor, we have decided to extend the vent until next Monday to allow them to join in on the fun!
Community Announcements - [TW]Yoshiro
The team behind the previous Killing Floor fan films has created something new for everybody to enjoy! Let them know what you think by watching the video below and leaving them a comment here or over at youtube. If you haven't seen their previous work, make sure you don't miss it.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

With the scariest holiday on the calendar creeping near, a Hellish handful of vicious video ghouls (games) are hosting Halloween festivities. If you can't find the fishnet stockings needed to complete your Sexy Parking Meter costume, and will be staying, here's a few unspeakable ideas on how to amuse yourself this wicked weekend.

You can seek the Bombinomicon in Team Fortress 2, fight Dracula and dress as Commander Chicken in Killing Floor, escape a zombie nightmare in Train Simulator 2012, and join in plenty of other spooky thrills.

Once again, Team Fortress 2 is running the scariest show in town, with the Third Annual Scream Fortress Very Scary Halloween Special. After reading the fabulous new comic revealing the terrifying truth behind the Demonman's missing eye, you'll be ready to hunt the accursed orb.

The map Viaduct has become the haunted Eyeaduct, where you'll face the twisted creature the Demoman's eye became, the Monoculus. Defeating it will grant rewards, while you can also find new and fantastic Hallowe'en costumes, buy chilling new Mann Store items, or get a cauldron of goodies just for playing.

Check the TF2 wiki for more, and have a peek at Eyeaduct courtesy of Youtube user Niichts:

Survival shooter Killing Floor is running the Halloween Sideshow, bringing back and spookifying the cast of the Summer Sideshow. The Abusement Park has relocated to the asylum map of Bedlam, where you'll find goblins, were-bunnies, pumpkins, and Dracula baying for your blood.

If you collect all seven new Killing Floor Halloween achievements, you'll unlock a Commander Chicken outfit to wear. Yes, it is a chicken suit.

Rock of Ages has rolled out a Jack-o'-lantern boulder skin for you to pummel your foes with, along with a spooky new title screen.

Railworks 3: Train Simulator 2012 is celebrating Halloween with perhaps the single oddest piece of downloadable content ever created, Trains vs Zombies.

Zombies have invaded the Oxford-Paddington route, so you'll need to drive a group of survivors, including a mysterious man known as The Professor, to a secret bunker beneath Paddington Station, switching trains and dodging the dastardly undead along the way. Yes. $4.99 will get you four scenarios with zombies, witches, and flying trains.

Bunch of Heroes is offering the spooky skins in the Horror Pack DLC for free on Steam over the weekend, after which you'll need to buy them.

Dungeons - The Dark Lord has a new Halloween-y map, and is filling your dungeons with pumpkins, candy, and other terrible things.

As ever, MMOs including World of Warcraft, Champions Online, DC Universe Online, Guild Wars, Aion, Free Realms, and oh so many more have their own Halloween festivities.

And, of course, there are heaps o' Halloween sales going on, but we'll have more on that in our weekend digital deals roundup later today.

Community Announcements - [TW]Yoshiro
We just rolled out a server and client update for Killing Floor to fix some windows server issues that were happening. Servers will need to update (clients might need to kick start steam with a refresh to grab the small update as well).

Enjoy your Halloween!
...