Shacknews - Steve Watts

The 12th annual Game Developers Choice Awards nominees were announced today, providing nods to some of last year's greatest games. Three studios shared a tie for the most nominations: Bethesda for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Valve for Portal 2, and newcomer Supergiant Games for Bastion. Skyrim and Portal 2 received five nominations each, while Bastion received four and the studio itself was nominated for Best Debut.

Sharing Game of the Year nominations with Portal 2 and Skyrim were Batman: Arkham City, Dark Souls, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Winners will be chosen by a group of 500 industry professionals and announced at the 2012 Game Developers Conference on March 7.

Check out the full list of nominees below.

Best Game Design

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios)

  • Dark Souls (FromSoftware)

Innovation

  • Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (Toys For Bob)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik)

  • L.A. Noire (Team Bondi)

Best Technology

  • Battlefield 3 (DICE)

  • L.A. Noire (Team Bondi)

  • Crysis 2 (Crytek Frankfurt/UK)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)

Best Handheld/Mobile Game

  • Tiny Tower (NimbleBit)

  • Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo)

  • Jetpack Joyride (Halfbrick)

  • Infinity Blade II (Chair Entertainment)

  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Capy Games/Superbrothers)

Best Audio

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • LittleBigPlanet 2 (Media Molecule)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • Dead Space 2 (Visceral Games)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

Best Downloadable Game

  • Stacking (Double Fine)

  • From Dust (Ubisoft Montpellier)

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • Outland (Housemarque)

  • Frozen Synapse (Mode 7)

Best Narrative

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • The Witcher 2 (CD Projekt RED)

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)

  • Saints Row: The Third (Volition)

Best Debut

  • Supergiant Games (Bastion)

  • Team Bondi (L.A. Noire)

  • Re-Logic (Terraria)

  • BioWare Austin (Star Wars: The Old Republic)

  • Eidos Montreal (Deus Ex: Human Revolution)

Best Visual Arts

  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)

  • Rayman Origins (Ubisoft Montpellier)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (Ignition Japan)

  • Battlefield 3 (DICE)

Game of the Year

  • Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal)

  • Dark Souls (FromSoftware)

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Oh, you thought that the industry had finally escaped the grasp of the Spike TV Video Game Awards? Not quite. Here are a few of the "acceptance speeches" that couldn't make it into the program--not because Spike TV decided to ignore most of the winners, but because these digitally rendered characters didn't win.

The Joker won the award for "Best Character," but here are the potential speeches you would've heard had Portal 2's Wheatley or Uncharted 3's Nathan Drake had won.

These videos are all hosted by GameTrailers.

And here's the winning video:

[These video embeds are not supported by the GameFly Apps or GameFly Digital Client]

Shacknews - Garnett Lee

It didn't take long for Valve to confirm the rumor we reported of an easy to use level creator coming to Portal 2. The new tool will be part of what the press release terms a "major update" planned for release early next year. With it, users will be able to create both single-player and co-op test chambers for Portal 2 and share them with the community. In addition to playing these new levels, gamers will be able to rate them with a single click, implying some sort of simple community rating system will exist for filtering the newly minted levels. Judging from the two screens below, it looks like making Portal 2 levels will be a much easier, perhaps even drag-and-drop, endeavor. Getting up to speed with, as Valve puts it, "thinking with portals," still presents plenty of challenge.

Shacknews - Garnett Lee

It didn't take long for Valve to confirm the rumor we reported of an easy to use level creator coming to Portal 2. The new tool will be part of what the press release terms a "major update" planned for release early next year. With it, users will be able to create both single-player and co-op test chambers for Portal 2 and share them with the community. In addition to playing these new levels, gamers will be able to rate them with a single click, implying some sort of simple community rating system will exist for filtering the newly minted levels. Judging from the two screens below, it looks like making Portal 2 levels will be a much easier, perhaps even drag-and-drop, endeavor. Getting up to speed with, as Valve puts it, "thinking with portals," still presents plenty of challenge.

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.

...