Community Announcements - the gish
Ooh! We forgot to mention something yesterday: One of the awards we were up for at the VGAs was Best Character. We can't say for sure if we came in second, but we definitely didn't win, so Wheatley's acceptance speech was never aired. Until now!

Speaking of not winning, guess who didn't win Destructoid's Game of the Year. If you guessed Portal 2, we hope you didn't actually call your local sports book and put any money on that guess, because we won! WE'RE #1! Unless you're reading E-Online, in which case, WE'RE BACK TO #2!

Look, we understand that awards season is a turbulent emotional hell ride. But you know what would probably make you feel better? Buying things. It just feels good. With that in mind, we've put a bunch of Portal 2 merchandise on sale. For example, this incredible 1970s-style Portal 2 movie poster is 50% off! And if you're planning to go out to eat for the holidays, you should know that many restaurants now require shirts, something this 50% off "Wheatley Laboratories" tee is 100% guaranteed to be. Frankly, there's figuratively literally too much Portal 2 stuff on sale to list in one blog post, but you can check it all out here. If you order forty bucks worth of stuff, we'll throw in a FREE Aperture Lanyard. Just add it to your cart and then enter the code "COMBUSTIBLELANYARD" at the checkout.

And just so you don't think all we're trying to do is sell you stuff, here's a sentence where we don't try to sell you anything. Now that that's over, J!nx has some excellent Portal gear, including the world's only Portal-themed baby onesies. Between now and December 22nd, you can get ten bucks off a thirty-five dollar order by entering the code "MILKANDCOOKIES" when you checkout.

If you have enough shirts and/or no babies, ThinkGeek has some crazy Portal 2 inspired non-clothing products like an actual, working PotatOS science kit, a Wheatley LED flashlight, and an honest-to-God talking Cave Johnson Portrait. Until December 22nd, you can get five bucks off a thirty dollar order or ten bucks off a fifty dollar order by entering the code "YOUSAVED SCIENCE" at the checkout.

Finally, do you like Portal 2? If the answer to that question is "no", then, man, did you make a wrong turn somewhere on the Internet. For everyone else, how would you like to celebrate those warm feelings every time you move your mouse? Because now that's possible with SteelSeries' new Portal 2 mousepad. It won't be available to order until tomorrow. But from then until December 26th, you'll be able to buy it for 15% off by using the code "SSP215".
Portal 2 Blog
Ooh! We forgot to mention something yesterday: One of the awards we were up for at the VGAs was Best Character. We can't say for sure if we came in second, but we definitely didn't win, so Wheatley's acceptance speech was never aired. Until now!







Speaking of not winning, guess who didn't win Destructoid's Game of the Year. If you guessed Portal 2, we hope you didn't actually call your local sports book and put any money on that guess, because we won! WE'RE #1! Unless you're reading E-Online, in which case, WE'RE BACK TO #2!



Look, we understand that awards season is a turbulent emotional hell ride. But you know what would probably make you feel better? Buying things. It just feels good. With that in mind, we've put a bunch of Portal 2 merchandise on sale. For example, this incredible 1970s-style Portal 2 movie poster is 50% off! And if you're planning to go out to eat for the holidays, you should know that many restaurants now require shirts, something this 50% off "Wheatley Laboratories" tee is 100% guaranteed to be. Frankly, there's figuratively literally too much Portal 2 stuff on sale to list in one blog post, but you can check it all out here. If you order forty bucks worth of stuff, we'll throw in a FREE Aperture Lanyard. Just add it to your cart and then enter the code "COMBUSTIBLELANYARD" at the checkout.




And just so you don't think all we're trying to do is sell you stuff, here's a sentence where we don't try to sell you anything. Now that that's over, J!nx has some excellent Portal gear, including the world's only Portal-themed baby onesies. Between now and December 22nd, you can get ten bucks off a thirty-five dollar order by entering the code "MILKANDCOOKIES" when you checkout.



If you have enough shirts and/or no babies, ThinkGeek has some crazy Portal 2 inspired non-clothing products like an actual, working PotatOS science kit, a Wheatley LED flashlight, and an honest-to-God talking Cave Johnson Portrait. Until December 22nd, you can get five bucks off a thirty dollar order or ten bucks off a fifty dollar order by entering the code "YOUSAVED SCIENCE" at the checkout.



Finally, do you like Portal 2? If the answer to that question is "no", then, man, did you make a wrong turn somewhere on the Internet. For everyone else, how would you like to celebrate those warm feelings every time you move your mouse? Because now that's possible with SteelSeries' new Portal 2 mousepad. It won't be available to order until tomorrow. But from then until December 26th, you'll be able to buy it for 15% off by using the code "SSP215".


Announcement - Valve
The Steam Holiday Sale continues today with huge savings throughout the store!

Today's Daily Deals Include:

Don't forget to check back each day, now through Sunday, January 1, 2012 for more great deals!

Kotaku

Portal 2 is Games Radar's Most Favorite 2011 Video GameTheir readers thought the best video game of 2011 was Skyrim, but the editors of Games Radar have picked Portal 2. It's their top game of the year.



The readers' second favorite game was Batman: Arkham City. But the editors? They didn't pick a second-favorite. The don't do silver medals at Games Radar.



GAME OF THE YEAR 2011 (FOR REAL): Portal 2 [Games Radar]


Community Announcements - the gish
In our last blog post, we announced that both the VGA and X-Play awards had nominated Portal 2 for Game of the Year. How'd things turn out? Well, you'll be happy to learn, we just barely lost both of them, helping cement our frankly historic dominance of the Second Best Game of the Year category. And the good news doesn't end there: We also grabbed the number two spot in Paste Magazine's first annual GOTY list, while clawing our way to a dramatic second place victory on C-Net. Just so you don't think we're getting cocky, though, the Associated Press and MSN UK put us at the top of their respective lists. You can't not win them all.

To celebrate all this runner-uppering, for the next twenty-four hours, Portal 2 is 75% off on Steam. If you're paying in US dollars, that means you can buy Portal 2 right now for seven dollars and fifty cents! If you're paying in non-US dollars, you'll have to boot up a spreadsheet and do the math yourself, but we guarantee the result will be just as startling.

And if you already own Portal 2, might we suggest you buy a few copies to give away as gifts? No? Well, unless you somehow skipped the last couple sentences, too late - it's suggested. Good luck getting the idea out of your head. You may as well buy some copies before it drives you insane. Sure, it's the second best gift you can give this season, but at a price you'd expect from the seventeenth or eighteenth best gift. Plus, let's say you give someone the number one game of the year. How are you going to top that next year? You'll have to buy them a car. Be smart about this.
Portal 2 Blog



In our last blog post, we announced that both the VGA and X-Play awards had nominated Portal 2 for Game of the Year. How'd things turn out? Well, you'll be happy to learn, we just barely lost both of them, helping cement our frankly historic dominance of the Second Best Game of the Year category. And the good news doesn't end there: We also grabbed the number two spot in Paste Magazine's first annual GOTY list, while clawing our way to a dramatic second place victory on C-Net. Just so you don't think we're getting cocky, though, the Associated Press and MSN UK put us at the top of their respective lists. You can't not win them all.



To celebrate all this runner-uppering, for the next twenty-four hours, Portal 2 is 75% off on Steam. If you're paying in US dollars, that means you can buy Portal 2 right now for seven dollars and fifty cents! If you're paying in non-US dollars, you'll have to boot up a spreadsheet and do the math yourself, but we guarantee the result will be just as startling.



And if you already own Portal 2, might we suggest you buy a few copies to give away as gifts? No? Well, unless you somehow skipped the last couple sentences, too late - it's suggested. Good luck getting the idea out of your head. You may as well buy some copies before it drives you insane. Sure, it's the second best gift you can give this season, but at a price you'd expect from the seventeenth or eighteenth best gift. Plus, let's say you give someone the number one game of the year. How are you going to top that next year? You'll have to buy them a car. Be smart about this.


Announcement - Valve
The Steam Holiday Sale is on now through Sunday, January 1, 2012. In addition to huge savings throughout the store, the 2011 sale features two special promotions that allow you to win like never before.

The Great Gift Pile challenges gamers to complete up to six objectives each day. Completion of each objective grants the chance to win a free game or discount coupons for select games available on Steam. If you don’t win, no worries, you’ll be given a piece of coal. But hold onto that coal!

Why?

Coal is the ticket to enter the Epic Holiday Giveaway. It’s called Epic because the top prize is every game on Steam. The more coal you have, the better your chance of winning. Players may alternatively choose to magically mix their coal into something shiny and new by “crafting” seven pieces into a gift from the Great Gift Pile. So this year receiving coal is a good thing.

Didn’t get what you want? Of course Steam allows you to trade coal and prizes with your friends.

Further details on these events and information on how it’s progressing may be found here.

Complete information on all the savings, daily deals, featured publisher game packs, compilations and more may be found on www.steampowered.com.

Kotaku

The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous ScreenshotsLast week, I was so happy to publish a feature about the incredible screenshots of DeadEndThrills, a.k.a. Duncan Harris. Duncan is regularly cranking out so many terrific shots over on his site that I thought it would be fun to share some highlights from each week, as well as a few classics from his many collections.



This week, he's been posting some crazy-pants screens from up-res'd versions of Wii games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Mario Galaxy, and appears to have just gotten his hands on S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, god help us all.



The gallery can be clicked through above (I recommend expanding the images or viewing them in a separate window to get the full, HD effect). As always, you're encouraged to go peruse his site, which contains many more great shots.



At top, we've got "Starman," which is the first of several shots from Super Mario Galaxy. Duncan is using a technique that Luke detailed for you last week to rip the (already owned) game onto a PC and run it in HD. The results are ridiculous looking, and have shattered my notions of how the great art direction of Nintendo's Wii games makes up for the system's lack of hardware prowess. Yes, Super Mario Galaxy and Skyward Sword still look lovely, but goddam would they look better in HD.



Duncan's notes:




Tools and tricks: Dolphin emulator (OpenGL), 2160p rendering, antialiasing (4xMSAA), textures patched (HUD, pause screen), free camera, bilinear downsampling.




The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots



Portal 2 Collection Shot


This shot is one of 50 included in a "DeadEndThrills Presents" collection of shots from Portal 2. They're all outstanding, given that that game and its engine are (in my opinion) utterly beautiful. And even better in motion, I think. This one might be my favorite, in that it captures the arachnoid grace of GlaDOS's character design.



Duncan's Notes:




About the screenshots. They weren't really possible until Valve finally patched in custom FOV to coincide with its release of the Portal 2 SDK. I'd tried this thing with combining timescale modification with the game's zoom function (an FOV slide, effectively) but it was a pain in the butt. There's also a quirk in recent versions of Source that makes 2160p unavailable when using triple buffering, and let me tell you it took ages to figure that one out. Finally, there are the extraordinary gymnastics required to get Chell in shot through the thirdperson camera.




The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots



"Veteran"


A great shot from one of Modern Warfare 2's most memorable bits—this is a great example of how a free camera can give a perspective on a scene that was unattainable while playing. I was personally way too concerned with not falling off the mountain to notice how gorgeous everything was.



Duncan's Notes:




Tools and tricks: game client 1.0 (boxed version), MW2 Unleashed command console patch, high quality ambient occlusion, custom LOD bias, 2160p rendering, antialiasing (FXAA), no-HUD, timestop, free camera, custom FOV.




The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots



"Ms. Platonic"


Another outstanding shot from Super Mario Galaxy. Some of these are almost unsettling, given how unused I am to seeing Nintendo's characters rendered with such clarity.



Duncan's notes:




Tools and tricks: Dolphin emulator (OpenGL), 2160p rendering, antialiasing (4xMSAA), textures patched (HUD, pause screen), free camera, bilinear downsampling.




The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots



Portal 2 Collection Shot


Another amazing one, of one of Portal 2's most striking bits of level design. Same notes apply as the last one.



The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots



"Beyond the Moon"


The last of the Super Mario Galaxy shots, and my favorite. Lookit that junk! Could you imagine if this game was playable in HD? I am much more excited about the WiiU than I have been previously.



Duncan's Notes:




Tools and tricks: Dolphin emulator (OpenGL), 2160p rendering, antialiasing (4xMSAA), textures patched (HUD, pause screen), free camera, bilinear downsampling.




The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots



"The Burning Season"


The first of what I hope will be many shots from S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. (God, do I really have to do the periods thing every time I write that game title?) This shot manages to evoke what makes that game so great—the openness, the bleak beauty, etc. I hope he tackles Far Cry 2 at some point.



Duncan's notes:




Tools and tricks: 2160 rendering, antialiasing (SMAA), free camera, time demo recorder, no-HUD, STALKER Complete 2009 mod, STALKER FOV Switcher 1.7.




The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots



"By A Nose"


Terrific shot from Super Smash Bros Brawl - it almost doesn't look like a game. In fact, I'll say that this image is a touch disconcerting… which I like.



Duncan's notes:




Tools and tricks: Dolphin emulator (OpenGL), 2160p rendering, antialiasing (4xMSAA), in-game Photo Mode, free camera, bilinear downsampling.




The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots



"Smoke on the Water"


It woudn't be DeadEndThrills without an epic Skyrim shot, so here is one of the most epic he's done. Fuck yeah. In Duncan's words: "Like much in Skyrim, this falls somewhere between being a massive anticlimax and the best thing ever." Notes on how he accomplished the look are here.


Kotaku

The Best Game Music of 2011: Portal 2Kotaku's "Best Game Music of 2011" is a multi-part series in which we'll be discussing the best video game soundtracks of the year. Today, we'll be looking at and listening to the interactive robo-crunch beats of Portal 2.



Portal 2 comes in near the top of a lot of critics' "Best of 2011" lists—it was a joyously brainy, well-written and brilliantly designed puzzle game. I have a soft spot for it partly because it inspired me to break out my dominoes and write the most fun game review I've ever written. But I also love how musical Portal 2 is—beats, tones, and rhythms run through its very core. In fact, I think that the game's rich musicality is one of the things that sets it apart from its hard-to-follow predecessor.



The score, composed by guitarist and electronic musician Mike Morasky, directly challenges the idea of a "score" when it comes to a video game. There are plenty of great musical tracks, all of which can be downloaded for free from Valve's site. But the magic of the game is how the designers at Valve incorporated the same musical elements from the soundtrack into their gameworld. There is a lovely and rare revolving-door relationship between the tones on the Songs to Test By album and the actual game Portal 2.



Rather than pick three favorite "Songs," I thought I'd just break it down by three great musical experiences found in the game.









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"Laser Music"


Thanks to YouTube user llSoulfirell for posting this clip—this segment, taken from one of Portal 2's early testchambers, was the moment that I truly fell in love with the game. It's a tricky three-part laser activation puzzle, requiring careful placement of the reflector boxes to proceed.



Once a laser touches its designated receptacle, something very cool starts to happen—music starts to play. The first receiver triggers a rough, shifting synth that moves between a low E, F#, G# and D. Trigger a second receiver and you'll hear an A#, a G# and an F#, which combine with the first four notes to imply a tonality known as Lydian (technically lydian dominant, but we'll get into that in a second). Lydian is what's called a mode, a way of dividing up a scale to get a certain sound. It's the brightest sound you can derive from the major scale (better known as the scale sung in "Do Re Mi" from The Sound of Music). Its most distinctive aspect is that raised fourth note, which is what makes it sound like a major chord with a little window opened right in the middle, the better to let in some more light.



…Erm, okay, music nerdiness has gotten away from me. It happens. Anyhow, hitting the third and final laser receptacle triggers more variations of the notes we already are hearing— a second D combined with that lower D brings out a dominant tonality, making the whole thing a loose lydian dominant chord (or an E7#4).



Theory aside, the upshot is that one moment you're solving a puzzle, the next you're listening to a bright, mystical lydian soundscape. And of course, as soon as you hear it, that means you've solved the puzzle and will be moving on. The story continues, GlaDOS goes back to taunting you…but if you're anything like me, you're also just a little bit more in love with this game.









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"Faith Plate"


Portal 2's "Faith Plates" (which are really just ironically named catapults) are another splendid use of dynamic music, made cooler by how they interact with and riff on the harpsichord music that plays in the background. This video gives a great example of that, with the two faith plates doing a harmonic and then rhythmic variation on the harmonies set forth in the canned classical music. (I can't for the life of me figure out what the piece is; hey man, classical music ain't my forté (see what I did there)).



(But of course, it is Bach. Thanks to the esteemed Matt Burns for the heads-up.)



I really enjoyed this video as well, which uses a user-generated level to make the faith plates interact more directly with the harpsichord. Music! Games! Science!









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"The Entire Ending"


So obviously this video is of the ending of the game, so if you haven't finished it, don't watch it. Also, if you haven't finished it… go finish it! What are you doing?



I was gobsmacked by Portal 2's entire ending sequence—it was entirely unexpected and truly inspired, easily one of my top gaming moments of 2011. The whole sequence is paced so effectively—players are in shock after the whole mind-blowing "Shoot the Moon" bit, and suddenly find themselves on an elevator being serenaded by four turret-bots. It's charming and funny, but soon fades… until we are carried up to a cavernous chamber that is filled with bots of all shapes and sizes (even the animal king!), who proceed to let loose an auto-tuned aria that still gives me goosebumps.



Kick through that and up to Jonathan Coulton's funny closing song (which I must admit I didn't dig nearly as much as "Still Alive" from Portal), and you've got my favorite finale sequence of 2011. I sense I am not alone in this.



Hit that video and watch it again; it never gets old.





So there it is, one of the most adventurous mainstream gaming soundtracks of 2011. You'll notice I said "One Of," because… hmm… could it be that there were soundtracks that were even more adventurous? Only one way to find out. Our series will continue tomorrow with yet another of the best video game soundtracks of 2011.


PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Gabe Newell opens up possibility of a Three Musketeers game, Valve ARG begins">Valve ARG



Sit down internet. We've got a story to tell.



Once upon a time on 4Chan, a lengthy thread was started in which posters would construct an email to Gabe Newell, one word at a time. The result was complete gibberish. You can read it here. Suriprisingly, Newell apparently replied to the email with this message.



"I don't suppose it would ease your wrath if I told you we're announcing all of your favourite things at E3 2012?"



Then, a follow up message, posted on Reddit. "I can see how the wording caused some confusion there. Yes, we are announcing something with a three in it."



THREE MUSKETEERS CONFIRMED. The emails may be fake, of course, but Valve have been in a playful mood recently. There was that employee who turned up to a local game developer conference in a Half Life 3 tee. With the release of a code-filled teaser trailer over the weekend, and the appearance of the @Doug_Rattman Twitter feed, one thing is certain. Valve have started another ARG.





Item One: In which Wheatley rants against a background full of probable clues







The video above, hosted on GameTrailers, was shown as part of an awards ceremony over the weekend. In the background there are plenty of streaming numbers, barcodes and visual artefacts that are just bound to contain hidden messages.



Item The Second: In which Doug Rattman rants on the Twitters



After lying dormant for months, Doug_Rattman has burst into life with the words "It βegins."



Then he starts tweeting long series of numbers in a similar format to the ones strobing alongside Wheatley in the above trailer, things like: "AV - 10.0 | 8.2 | 12.6 | 15.2 | 7.8 | 0.2 | 17.9 | 6.9 | 21.1 | 3.7 | 21.2 | 20.4 | 10.7 - Connection Lost"



Oh god. Here we go again. Could it have something to do with an upcoming Steam sale, could it all be leading toward a Half Life 3 reveal?
...