PC Gamer
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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?
PC Gamer

http://youtu.be/n7bkewdgjKA

Glados has escaped the confines of the Aperture Science testing facility, and has decided to spend a bit of time tormenting tower defence gamers instead. You Monster, the new expansion for Defense Grid, will add eight new maps and 35 challange missions, in which Glados will challenge you to hold back another alien invasion, noting your progress all the while and designing new tests for you to complete. The DLC is set to come out on Steam on December 7. Check out the Defense Grid site for more info.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Steam Autumn sale is live: Orcs Must Die, Portal 2, Mass Effect, Renegade Ops super cheap">Steam Autumn sale

Do you hear that faint wailing in the background? That's the sound of a thousand bank accounts going "noooo!" at the appearance of the Autumn Steam Sale. Thankfully for our wallets, it only lasts until Sunday, with dozens of new deals every day. Consider it a warm up for the monolithic Steam Christmas sale next month.

The sale kicked off yesterday, but you've still got six hours to grab some of the fantastic day one deals. The marvellous Orcs Must Die is just £2.99 / $3.74 (we gave it a score of 90 in our Orcs Must Die review). Portal 2 is selling for just £6.79 / $10.19. If you haven't played Mass Effect yet, the first game is £2.49 / $4.99, and Mass Effect 2 is 75% off at £4.99 / $12.49.

If you're more partial to an arcade explodathon starring Gordon Freeman, Renegade Ops is £4.99 / $7.49 (or you can grab a four pack for £9.99 / $14.99). All of Dejobaan's games are also on sale as well, including AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome.

These games are also on sale for the next few hours:

Call of Duty: Black Ops
Duke Nukem Forever
Test Drive Unlimited 2
Risen
Sam & Max series
Men of War series
Oddworld series

 
These deals will switch out in 5 hours and 42 minutes from the time of writing. Keep an eye on the Steam front page for the next set of deals then.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Let the scheming begin:Valve releases first screenshots of Portal 2 puzzle creator">Portal2mapeditor

Oh. Oh my. The new Portal 2 puzzle creator looks quite manageable - even for those of us who aren't sentient AIs gone genocidally mad. I mean, I'm sure we've all wanted to murder every squishy, inferior lifeform around us through a series of devious (and oftentimes hilarious) tests at some point in our lives, but it just sounded so... hard. Well, no more! Check out two new screens for proof. Also, after I've single-handedly turned the world into a series of horrific death puzzles, someone at Valve's probably getting spared for this one:

"We're also building a community site to host all of these player-created puzzles. The site will allow players to quickly find new puzzles and add them to their game, ready to play, with a single click. Players will then be able to rate the puzzles they've played, leave comments for puzzle creators, and follow creators they like."
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Valve announces second Portal 2 DLC, officially confirms level editor">Portal 2  - Atlas and P body

So it was sort-of-rumored, so shall it be. Valve's officially announced the second dollop of Portal 2 DLC (via Joystiq), and it includes "an easy-to-use in-game map editor that will let users design, build and share their own single-player and co-op test chambers with the community." It's coming out early next year.

Beyond that, the only tidbit Valve's allowing to seep out - in much the same way one would utilize a deadly neurotoxin - is a vague mention of voting for your favorite levels. Community features, then, are probably a no-brainer - which is roughly the state one would find themselves in after being exposed to a deadly neurotoxin.

What about a GLaDOS-powered "spellcheck," though? Valve's said nothing, but fingers crossed, obviously. As a rule, Valve's notoriously tight-lipped, but I've asked for more details just in case.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to PC cleans up at the Golden Joystick Awards">goldenjoystick thumb

Whoa. When did PC gaming become so damn... award-winning?

PC has cleaned up at the Golden Joystick awards with a wealth of exclusives. And the non PC exclusive games that took an award? We get to play most of those too, only more anti aliased, and in a better resolution.

The best bit? Gamers voted for these. Real-life gamers with strong opinons. A record-breaking 2.06 million of them in fact. Well done PC gaming community - you rose to the challenge and pwned.

Click through for the full results. Don't agree with some of the winners? It's time for a furious debate. See you in the comments.

PC dominated the Best Strategy category: Starcraft 2 took the number one spot, followed by Civilisation V and Shogun 2: Total War. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood was awarded Best Action game and Fallout: New Vegas took Best RPG.

World of Warcraft took Best Subscription MMO, beating Rift and Eve Online. One of PC Gamer's faves - Minecraft - was awarded Best Downloadable Game. We'll have Notch's acceptance speech on the site as soon as possible.

League of Legends scooped Best Free-To-Play Game - considering the numbers and constant updates, it's hard to disagree.

Portal 2 took Ultimate Game of the Year at the prestigious ceremony. Seeing as we have the ultimate version of Portal 2, we'll take that as ANOTHER win for PC gaming.

Skyrim took the One To Watch award. We've been keeping a close eye on that one. And yes, it is indeed one to watch.

Best Action
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Runner Up
Portal 2
Third place
L.A. Noire

Best Mobile
Angry Birds Rio
Runner up
Fruit Ninja
Third place
Infinity Blade

Best RPG
Fallout New Vegas
Runner up
The Witcher 2: Assassin's Of Kings
Third Place
Dragon Age II

Best subscription MMO
Winner
World of Warcraft
Runner up
Rift
Third place
Eve Online

Best Fighting
Mortal Kombat
Runner up
Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
Third place
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition

Best Racing
Gran Turismo 5
Runner up
DiRT 3
Third place
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit

Best Sports
FIFA 11
Runner up
Pro Evolution Soccer 2011
Third place
NHL 2011

Best Strategy
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
Second place
Civilization V
Third place
Total War: Shogun 2

Best Music
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock
Second place
Rock Band 3
Third place
Child of Eden

Best Free-to-play
League of Legends
Second place
World Of Tanks
Third place
RuneScape

Best Downloadable
Minecraft
Second place
Limbo
Third place
Dead Nation

Best Shooter
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Second place
Halo: Reach
Third place
Crysis 2

One to Watch
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Second place
Battlefield 3
Third place
Guild Wars 2

Innovation of the Year
Nintendo 3DS

Outstanding Contribution
Sonic The Hedgehog

Ultimate Game of the Year
Portal 2
Second place
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
Third place
Call of Duty: Black Ops
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Valve working on Portal 2 level editor, GLaDOS possibly coming along for the ride">Portal-2-Glados-hanging-out

Portal's been begging for its own level-creation tool since GLaDOS first began turning frowns upside-down - physically, that is, by snapping people's necks. Fortunately, it's finally in the cards - with a pretty awesome twist, to boot.

According to an update to journalist Geoff Keighley's "The Final Hours of Portal 2" app (via Kotaku), Valve's currently putting together a "a Photoshop for test chambers" that'll allow players to create and access content without ever having to leave the game. And who will be presiding over your devious machinations? Why, the nigh-immortal master of tests herself, GLaDOS.

"The writers are even discussing the idea of adding a personality to the editor," explained Keighley. "magine what it would be like to have GLaDOS berate you every time you spell something incorrectly in Microsoft Word and you'll have a sense of where this can go."
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Valve writers talk silent protagonists and bringing the LOLs">Portal 2 Thumbnail

As reported on Gamasutra, a bunch of Valve's writers have been taking part in a roundtable question and answer session at GDC Online.

Read on for some insight from some of the most talented writers in the industry.

Valve might be famous for its use of silent protagonists but according to Mark Laidlaw, one of the writers at Valve, it can be a restrictive on a studio's creativity: "Now that some of Valve's most popular protagonists are silent, there’s no turning back. “At this point we’re fully committed to it and taking it as far as it possibly could go.”

Eric Wolpaw, another writer at Valve, also provided some insight. Referring to Valve's hugely successful free to play game, TF2, he said: “that whole game is us desperately trying to keep our jobs."

“Comedy stuff is tougher because it’s more subjective and it’s really hard to gauge peoples’ reaction," he said. Wolpaw added that sometimes it’s a bit depressing, when people playtest a part in a game that’s supposed to be funny, and there's little reaction. “Pretty much no one that played Portal 2 cracked a smile, but testers still said the game was funny... It’s hard to tell if a joke is failing or not.”

Laidlaw was equally humble when referring to his own work: “We fail all the time, we just don’t advertise it too much...we always want to feel like we’re on the edge and challenging ourselves and growing all the time.”

What's your favourite example of writing in games? Let us know in the comments.

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Portal 2: Peer Review DLC released">Portal 2  - Atlas and P body

If you notice Portal 2 updating today, don't be alarmed: it's only because you're getting the new Portal 2: Peer Review DLC for free. If you don't have a copy of Portal 2 to update, Valve have that covered as well: it's on sale for 50% off through the 6th.

Peer Review adds a new multiplayer test track for robo-buddies P-body and Atlas, and features a single-player and co-op Challenge mode.

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Portal 2 DLC out Wednesday, adds new co-op missions, challenge mode and leaderboards">Portal 2 - bouncy blue turrets

Wednesday October 5. That will be the day in which the Portal 2 Peer Review DLC will be released. The free mission pack will extend Atlas and Peabody's co-op adventure and add a new challenge mode for single player and co-op maps.

Back when Valve announced first DLC pack, they also mentioned leaderboards so all your friends and a bunch of strangers will all know how exactly how smart you are (or aren't), which explains the 'Peer Review' handle. That means your performance will be graded by both Glados AND the conglomerate hivemind of the The Internet. NO PRESSURE.

In more 'free stuff from Valve' news, the third volume of the Portal 2 soundtrack, Songs to Test By, is available now on the Portal 2 site, featuring such classic hits as Some Assembly Required, Your Precious Moon and Robots FTW.
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