Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Free cake for everyone

Goodness, that happened with absolutely no fanfare. The original Portal, if you somehow don’t already own it, can now be installed and played for free via Steam. I’ve just checked it on a spare Steam account and it works just dandy. This is true of both the PC and the Mac version, by the way. If you’re determined to pay money for it, you can still cough up for The Orange Box or the Portal 1+2 package, but just Portal itself now defiantly costs no-pennies. Grab it from here.

Update: transpires that this is only available until September 20th, as part of a games and learning initiative from Valve. So get your skates on, yes? As long as you install the game before the expiry date, it’s yours to keep forever.

You can see more on Valve’s “Learn With Portals” program, wherein they’re encouraging kids to create Portal levels themselves, in the rather charming video below. (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

A man signs into his Steam account, this morningA few weeks ago, Valve started beta testing its Steam Trading feature and people have swapped over a million items since then. Were the majority of them hats? I don’t have those figures, but the entrails in this animal say “yes”. The trading feature is now officially live and you can trade all sorts of gubbins with one another. Clarification: “all sorts of gubbins” means Team Fortress 2, Portal 2 and Spiral Knights items so not a great deal has actually changed. Perhaps more interesting than item swapping is the ability to trade unredeemed games, although do note the qualifier ‘unredeemed’. Steam is not letting you swap grubby used goods. There’s a FAQ here. The fact that every public profile now comes with an inventory means that Steam is officially an RPG in which buying cheap games is the grind. The plan is to bring more developers on board in the coming months, so one day you may be able to trade the Incas for a pair of cowboy boots. Truly, we live in exciting times.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

It did best on PC because console gamers are tooooo stoooooopid loooooooool. That is my reasoned argument.

So says Gabe Newell, as part of a long and fascinating interview at Gamasutra about Valve’s current state of play. Of their recent games’ commercial success he claims that “We can never predict; I mean we just try to build good games and then we tend to be surprised. Portal 2 did better on the PC than it did on the consoles; Left 4 Dead did better on the consoles than it did on the PC.” (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Jim Rossignol)

It’s a pretty fantastic short film. You can watch it below. The film was apparently directed by Dan Trachtenberg, and stars Danielle Rayne. It was first shown at SDCC earlier this summer. (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (John Walker)

All I did was make a nice picnic. I'm rubbish!

Oh now this is special. Properly special. Extraordinarily talented map creator Douglas “TopHATTwaffle” Hoogland was commissioned by one Gary Hudston to create a very particular series of Portal 2 levels. Working with Rachel “Miss Stabby” van der Meer, he set about creating some truly spectacular Portal 2 puzzles that lead up to, well, something of a proposal.

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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Well, looky-here. Valve’s put out the winners for its Portal 2/The National make-a-video contest – which is a bit of a relief, as people kept mailing us with their videos like we had some sort of judiciary power. We don’t! We only have that over the life and/or death of every sentient being on the planet. We cannot, repeat cannot, decide the winners of other people’s competitions.

So, here are the two victors, which I shall refer to as Sad Puppet and Cut-Up Lab Rat. Warning: watching them will require you to listen to a maudlin piano song that may affect your mood for the worse.
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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Valve’s in-game TF2 item store is about to become an out-of-game item store. They’re trialling something called Steam Trading, which primarily involves swapping your TF2 unlocks (i.e. those damnable hats, mostly) for other games.

It’s an old-fashioned barter system in new-fangled clothes. What happens is you invite someone on your Steam friends list or who you’re in a group chat with to trade, and can offer up your various TF2 items to the other guy. In return, he or she can offer you other TF2 items – or to gift a game to you. You can’t do this with any old game in your Steam library – only games you’ve purchased from the store as a gift, or received as an Extra Copy.
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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Over the last few years, Valve have been quietly honing the fine art of viral marketing in an online age, and comics have been a big part of that. A cartel of in-house writers and the excellent pencils of Michael Avon Oeming (and others) have created some rather splendid words’n'pictures. Of course, they were merely digital. HOW DARE YOU INSULT OUR EYEBALLS WITH YOUR CRUMMY JPEGS? Why, that’s for philistines> and people too damned lazy to turn paper pages. This horrendous oversight and offence to everything that some angry guy somewhere probably holds dear is about to be corrected, thanks to a hardback compilation of Valve’s various Portal, Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2 comics due from august comic publisher Dark Horse later this year.
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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

First there was one free official soundtrack collection for Portal 2, and now there are two. That’s eighteen more tracks of exciting bleeping, on top of the 22 we’ve already had. There’s a third one yet to come – but will it include The National’s ode to abject misery and Jonathon Coulton’s latest Portal creation? We will probably find out at some point in the near future: that is my official statement on the matter. Yes, you may quote me on it.

Meantime, get over here to grab Music To Test By Volume 2, or just have a peer at the reliably entertaining list of track titles below. SPOILER ALERT: one of the titles is on the spoiley side if you’ve not played the game.
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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Andrew Smee)


A couple of days ago we reported on the Portal 2 Summer Mapping Initiative, a competition held in honour of the frankly frightening creativity of the Valve fan base. If you enjoyed Portal 2, and who didn’t, you might want to give them a go. The official winners and runners up created a big chunk of content, dumping easily a typical single-player game’s campaign worth of playtime into your lap, for no pennies. I’ve been playing the top-rated co-op maps, because the stark terror of being trapped in a testing facility that mostly wants to kill you is best experienced with company. Let me tell you about it!

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