Shacknews - Steve Watts

Valve has hosted Portal 2 map contests in the past, but those tools are more advanced and best suited to the modding community. Now the company is reportedly experimenting with an easier tool set that will be more inviting to aspiring level creators.

An update to Geoff Keighley's The Final Hours of Portal 2 (via Kotaku) explains the tools, described as "Photoshop for levels." The new kit would be more user-friendly, and include a level browser to boot. The browser could even make it to consoles, letting PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 players benefit from the work of creators.

Also intriguing is the idea of adding personality to the level editor. "Imagine 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," Keighley writes.

Now for the bad news. The report is unclear on whether this is a definitive, planned update, or just some idle tinkering from Valve. The nebulousness of the plan means that if we do get these tools and browser, it may well be on Valve Time.

Shacknews - Xav de Matos

To celebrate today's launch of free downloadable content for Portal 2, Valve has slashed the price of the puzzle title for a limited time on Steam.

Starting now and running until Thursday afternoon, a single digital copy of Portal 2 is priced at $14.99 (50% off).

New downloadable content for the game continues the co-op adventures of Atlas and P-Body. In addition, it adds new single- and multiplayer challenge modes. The DLC is also available on Xbox 360 and PS3 for free.

A two-game bundle is also available for $27.49 (50% off) as well as a set that includes the original Portal and its sequel for $17.49 (50% off). Check the Steam gamepage for details.

The promotion ends on Thursday at 4pm PT.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

In typical Valve fashion, their next release is coming a bit later than expected. Portal 2's long-promised free DLC will be available on October 4th on PC, Mac, PS3, and Xbox 360. The "Peer Review" DLC will be automatically downloaded via Steam on PC and Mac, and will be available on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network for console players.

The add-on will add a brand new co-op test track for P-Body and Atlas, as you "once again match wits with GLaDOS." In addition to the new co-op track, the DLC also adds a single player and co-op Challenge Mode, and leaderboard support to compare Challenge Mode scores.

Along with the DLC announcement comes the third portion of the "Songs To Test By" official soundtrack, and new ringtone packs for both iOS and Android based cell phones.

Download the third volume of the "Songs To Test By" Portal 2 soundtrack here, or the complete soundtrack here.

Download the third iOS ringtones pack here, or the complete iOS ringtones pack here.

Download the third Android ringtones pack here, or the complete Android ringtones pack here.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Steam's snazzy new trading feature has come out of public testing and officially launched. It lets Steam users swap games for hats, hats for guns, or any combination thereof through a snazzy and secure interface.

The official launch also adds support for trading Spiral Knights and Portal 2 items, on top of the Team Fortress 2 trading seen in the beta. The Steam store also now has the option to buy gift copies of games to stash in your inventory for later gifting or trading. Only unused gift copies can be traded, not games you've played or accepted.

"The addition of Steam Trading is the latest example of how Steam continues to evolve with new features and functions developed based upon feedback," Valve director of business development Jason Holtman said. "We look forward to seeing how gamers and developers have fun and move this functionality forward."

Trading has also been added Valve's Steamworks SDK, letting other developers add it to their own games.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Remember Portal 2? Remember how Valve had promised free DLC for the game back in April? Notice how it's... um, not out yet? Did Valve forget all about it? Is it being released alongside Half-Life 2: Episode 3?

No! Thankfully, Valve hasn't quite forgotten about its multi-million selling sequel. Valve's Doug Lombardi told Kotaku that the upcoming downloadable content will be available in September. That is "still technically summer," for those of you looking at your Valve clocks.

Unfortunately, the company rep offered no additional details on what the DLC will entail. From the April release, we understand the expansion will offer "new test chambers, leaderboards, both a single- and multiplayer challenge mode, and more." The pack will be free on all the platforms: PC, Mac, PS3, and Xbox 360.

If you desperately need more Portal 2 content now, make sure you pick up the PC/Mac version. You can download some fan-created challenges. If you have a lot of money to spare, the Razer Hydra peripheral also lets you access some specially designed levels as well.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Valve has been making comics around some of its biggest properties for months for free online, but now the company has partnered with Dark Horse Comics to bring them out in print. Comic Book Resources (via Gamasutra) reports that "Valve Presents: The Sacrifice and Other Steam-Powered Stories" will go on sale November 16 for $29.99.

The collection is a bit pricier than the average comic collection, but it's also more than three-hundred pages long and sports a hardcover. That makes it hard to complain. It will include stories from the worlds of Team Fortress 2, Portal, and Left 4 Dead. All indications are that this is a compilation of comics you can already find online, but it wouldn't surprise us if Valve slipped a bonus or two in there.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

The second chunk of Portal 2's three-volume soundtrack 'Songs to Test by' is now available to download for free, bringing another eighteen toe-tapping tunes to your ears.

Accompanying the new soundtrack volume is another round of Portal 2 ringtones in handy Android and iOS formats. Some are based upon soundtrack snippets, whilst others simply in-game sound effects for your telephonic tililation.

Download the second iOS ringtone pack here, and the iOS sound effects ringtone pack here.

Download the second Android ringtone pack here, and the Android sound effects ringtone pack here.

Free Portal 2 downloadable content is expected on all platforms this summer, though this was announced in April and we've heard little of it since; who knows what degree of Valve time dilation is in effect? However, free DLC has been released for players using the fancy Razer Hydra motion controller, introducing a number of new mechanics.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Portal 2

Valve has announced the winners of its Portal 2 Summer Mapping Initiative contest. The company says that they received 280 entries in all, and the 13 lucky judges took 140 hours to complete them all. Play Portal 2 for hours and hours -- what a terrible fate, right?

Patent Pending, an intermediate difficulty map, won the contest. Pit-heavy Infinifling took second place, and Edifice won an honorable mention. Those levels have been given a Valve stamp of approval, so they're probably worth trying out. The instructions for installing the packs are at Valve's winners page.

The winning creators will each receive Portal 2-themed t-shirts, posters, and swag from Jinx, Think Geek, Glitch, and Valve. The company also reminded users of the music video contest currently running through July 15. You can win a guitar autographed by The National along with some Portal goodies, so get started if you have any video editing skills.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Valve's Gabe Newell casually mentioned sales of Portal 2 during a talk at Games for Change in New York City. Three million is the number he told the audience, as captured by Joystiq.

While Newell didn't offer any detail about retail and Steam sales, that is an incredible accomplishment given the game's April release and full retail price point. By the time of Portal 2's launch, the original game had sold four million retail copies. At this rate, it seems likely that the sequel will match the sales of the original. And with the money made from Portal 2, Valve will finally be able to complete development of Half-Life 2: Episode 3. That's how it works, right?

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Portal 2

Portal 2 has gotten its first bit of downloadable content -- for those who bought an expensive controller, at least. Rock Paper Shotgun reports that those who bought a Razer Hydra motion controller built for the game can now get 10 levels of motion-centered Portal 2 DLC.

The motion pack, developed by Sixense Studios, involves rotating portals and scaling the mass of objects like cubes to solve puzzles. Unfortunately, the Razer Hydra is roughly $140, so getting this DLC isn't exactly cheap.

Keep in mind, this isn't the free DLC promised for the game, as that will be coming for all platforms and include other features like leaderboards and multiplayer challenge rooms. But, this pricey DLC did give us an opportunity to ask Valve about the free pack, and whether this motion pack is planned for release elsewhere. We'll update as more information becomes available.