Shacknews - Steve Watts

Team Fortress 2's bustling hat-based economy is getting another rare addition, thanks to the launch of Scribblenauts Unlimited. Pre-ordering the game through Steam before it launches next week will get you a choice of Maxwell or Lily's rooster hats, which honestly aren't that much sillier than the other hat options in TF2.

Maxwell's comes in red and Lily's in pink. The hats will be available as soon as you pre-order Scribblenauts, so you don't have to wait for its November 20 release date to don your rooster cap. Scribblenauts Unlimited is also planned for the Wii U, but of course, you don't get to wear a ridiculous looking hat that way.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Valve is adding another community campaign to its official Left 4 Dead 2 servers, "Warcelona." It joins the other recent campaign, Cold Stream, but the bulk of today's update is news on how the new Workshop features will simplify finding campaigns to play.

The L4D2 Blog says the Workshop features are about to enter private beta this weekend. Workshop users will get to click a button to subscribe to a new map like Warcelona. The announcement doesn't detail when the Workshop might go live for all users, but it does invite players to stop by for a "meet the creators" event. It will kick off on Saturday at noon PST in the Official Left 4 Dead Game Group.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Steam, Valve's popular portal for PC games, is now available on Linux. The beta client is currently available for Ubuntu 12.04, with more OS variants to be supported in the future. Valve's Frank Crockett explained that "an overwhelming majority of beta applicants have reported they're running the Ubuntu distro of Linux," but Valve plans on supporting additional "popular distros," prioritized by user feedback.

The beta client will become available to "a widening group of users," but the first round is currently reserved for those that have already responded to participate. "Once the team has seen a solid level of stability and performance across a variety of systems, the Steam for Linux client will become available to all users of Steam."

To coincide with the launch of Steam for Linux, Valve has released Team Fortress 2 for the platform. Valve says that approximately two dozen other games are also available to play, but the list is currently inaccessible.

The Linux client also includes support for Big Picture mode. It's all part of Valve's larger bet on Linux as a platform, as the company openly criticized Microsoft's new Windows 8 OS.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Every year around this time, the light-hearted (albeit bloody) world of Team Fortress 2 gets a little bit darker. Past years have brought a horseless headless horseman and Demonman. The fourth annual "Scream Fortress" update brings a necromancer with a grudge and some magic potions in tow.

The update goes live today and lasts through November 8. As usual, it ties into a new comic that plays with the premise. The magician Merasmus will enter haunted King of the Hill maps to terrorize your crew, throwing bombs and booby-trapping the control points. Each time a point changes hands, a random effect will trigger some "horrible fate." Or possibly something good, but you know, more likely the horrible fate thing.

You'll also randomly find spells that you can cast on items in your backpack, giving them magical effects like ghost summoning or flaming footsteps, or more modest ones like repainting your items. One spell promises to make you an evil sorcerer.

The new "Wave 666" replaces your usual Machine co-op opponents with brain-hungry zombies, and you can score two new achievements -- one for beating Merasmus, and one for getting to Skull Island.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

We're fast-approaching the celebration of gluttony and cheap costuming that is Halloween, wherein we scare ghosts and demons back into the spirit world by dressing up like political figures and scantily clad nurses. Left 4 Dead 2 is a little on the spooky side, so Valve is letting you trick your treats with a free weekend of the game.

The free period begins on Thursday, with the whole game available to try out. You can begin pre-loading the game now, if you want to jump on the opportunity. For you old hands at L4D2, it also includes a new achievement to chase. The "Good Guy Nick" achievement rewards you for helping a free weekend player survive a campaign. You'll just have to suppress your frustration when they keep shining their flashlight straight at the Witch.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

When Team Fortress 2 launched its Mann vs Machine update, it finally added a co-op mode to the game. Not content to rest on its laurels, Valve had updated the game with several new tweaks and features.

A post on the TF2 Blog spills the details. For starters, the new update includes two more Tours of Duty to sate those who found the first one too easy or too hard. Operation Oil Spill should prove less of a challenge, and Operation Gear Grinder is for those who laugh in the face of danger.

You can also look forward to new Tour-specific loot, including rusty robot heads for Oil Spill, and 24-carat diamond heads for the Gear Grinder. The update also boasts improved match-making, which lets you select from multiple missions. Finally, after a mission is over, you'll be sent back to the matchmaking screen as a group.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Fans have been eagerly awaiting Gordon Freeman's next adventure. While the Half-Life series has been long-dormant, an incredibly talented team of dedicated fans recently released Black Mesa--a remake of the first game created entirely in an updated version of the Source engine. While not officially sanctioned by Valve, the company has made no effort blocking the remake--odd, considering the typical C&D approach taken by other monolithic publishers.

So why is Valve so supportive of fan remakes? "This feels like pretty common sense," Valve's Chet Faliszek said. "Why wouldn't we? I guess you'd have to convince me of the benefits to the other side."

VG247 pointed out that companies are trying to protect their interests, "blocking anything that could tarnish the reputation of their products."

"Well, let's say that Black Mesa Source turned out horrible. It's not going to hurt the original Half-Life," Faliszek responded, as the interviewer noted that the original game still exists even after the release of a fan-remake.

Thankfully, Black Mesa turned out to be not-horrible, with Faliszek praising the remake's "excellent graphics." It also provided the Valve writer an opportunity to revisit the original game, something he hasn't played since working on Half-Life 2: Episode Two--which released back in 2007.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Attentive horror fans may have spotted the bilious Boomer and other Left 4 Dead monsters snuck into Joss Whedon's delightful scare 'em up movie The Cabin in the Woods, but L4D's involvement was once supposed to be far greater. Director Drew Goddard has revealed that a CitW expansion was planned for Left 4 Dead 2, but sadly got scrapped. Plainly, this post contains spoilers for the film, which you really should see if you haven't.

"We actually were going to do a downloadable L4D2 expansion pack, where you'd fight in the Cabin world, but then MGM went bankrupt so the delay squashed it," Goddard said in an 'Ask Me Anything' on Reddit. "But the people at Valve were still cool enough to let us use some of their monsters to fill the cubes in the background (I had a lot of cubes to fill.)"

He added, "By the way -- the game was gonna be amazing. You were gonna be able to play in both the upstairs 'Cabin in the Woods' world and the downstairs 'facility' world with all the monsters. Believe me, I HATE all video games based on movies, they always suck, but porting Cabin into Left For Dead felt like the right fit. It pains me that it didn't happen."

Here's the scene where the Left 4 Dead monsties appear:

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Steam is putting its Workshop tools to work once again, this time with Left 4 Dead 2. The update is planned for sometime in mid-October, giving creators more tools and users more variety of content to sample, along with one intriguing-sounding method of integrating the content.

A post on the Left 4 Dead Blog promises that you can browse, rate, discuss, and easily install mods, par for the course with Steam Workshop titles. It's even offering an expanded scripting tool that can layer modifications on top of existing maps, similar to mutations. But L4D2 will also be experimenting with some way of folding content into the world "even more seamlessly." That vague hint is all we have to go on now. The Workshop will be available across PC, Mac, and Linux.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

If you've been paying any amount of attention to Team Fortress 2, you've probably noticed that it's home to some of Valve's wackier ideas. The company says it may not have started as a test bed, but it's certainly become one as it's used to experiment with new strategies.

"In the end, TF2 has been ended up being one of the most useful tools we've ever built to reduce risk in our company's future," lead designer Robin Walker said.

"It's been really nice that it's also brought in significant revenue throughout that time, but ultimately, the importance we place on understanding our business and our customers has made it totally worthwhile." Walker told Gamasutra that without TF2, Valve's lack of experience in monetization would be "terrifying."

He says the hidden goal for TF2 was to explore ideas that "were potentially a requirement for the long-term survival of the company." When the game first came out, it appeared that MMOs were going to take over the market, so Valve started building persistent items. When the free-to-play market rose, it used TF2 as a test bed for microtransactions. The gambles seem to be paying off, as the game continues to evolve and remain popular.

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