Left 4 Dead 2 - Ozzie Mejia
Valve is wishing players everywhere a Happy Holidays by offering a special gift. Steam owners can pick up and install a free copy of Left 4 Dead 2 from now through 10am PST on Thursday, December 26, at which point it will return to its regular price.
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
Valve has released a new Team Fortress 2 animated short! Oh, and a big update for the free-to-play FPS too, I guess. That's what the video is about, really. The patch focuses on TF2's co-op Mann vs. Machine mode, bringing two new urban maps and shiny new weapon upgrades, but also adds a new community-made Control Point map.
Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia
As we reach the dawn of Halloween, it's time for Valve's Team Fortress 2 to once again celebrate the holiday. The fifth annual "Scream Fortress" update is now live and will feature a new Payload Race map called Helltower. Oh, did I mention that everyone gets to wield magic? That's an important detail.
Portal 2 - Steve Watts
We've seen the promo shots of the Steam controller and heard generally positive reactions from indie developers, but we haven't yet seen it in action. That changed today, with a demonstration video that shows the prototype being used to control games ranging from the generally console-friendly shooters to more PC-centric titles.
Portal 2 - Steve Watts
Valve has signed off on a deal with Toon Hero creator Trigger Happy, to allow use of their Portal 2 characters and assets in the cartoon creator app. It starts rolling out this week with the addition of P-Body, one of the two co-op robots from the game.
Left 4 Dead 2 - Andrew Yoon

The internet jokes that Valve is allergic to the number 3. However, it appears one sequel may finally reach that ever-elusive number. A recent tour of Valve's office by Reddit members has unearthed a listing for "Left 4 Dead 3."

A snapshot of an idle monitor (via Gamespot) shows a thread by a Ted Carson. "Restored L4D3," it reads, preceded by mention of Source 2--Valve's next-gen engine.

Left 4 Dead 3 previously surfaced in a supposed Valve project tracker, which also mentioned Half-Life 3. Of course, with employees being able to freely work on whatever they want, these listings won't necessarily coalesce into a real product.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Gosh, it's been over four years since Team Fortress 2 introduced random item drops. Four years of people standing idle in servers waiting for hats. Curiously, Valve's now chosen to clamp down on that. It's all perfectly reasonable but, well, hasn't everyone already moved onto idling in other games to score Steam Trading Cards?

"We recently made a change that helps ensure players are playing TF2, not just leaving their computers on in order to get item drops," Valve explained in a blog post yesterday. "As of last week, players can no longer receive item drops unless they are actively playing the game."

"Active" players are people who are: on a sever with Valve Anti-Cheat enabled; not running TF2 in the terminal-like 'textmode'; only running one copy of TF2; and responding to drop notifications without using an external program. You know: people who are actually playing TF2. They're not affected at all.

Valve says the change is to "designed to make the TF2 experience equally rewarding for all players." Though, farming items is also a messy loose end as Valve introduces more and more things to trade with others or sell on Steam's Community Market. It'll be interesting to see if Steam Trading Cards receive similar changes once the initial hype wears off.

Left 4 Dead 2 - Alice O'Connor

Valve's beta version of Left 4 Dead 2 has graduated to become it plain old regular version. Yesterday's update brought the official launch of the co-op shooter's Linux version and the Extended Mutation System that lets modders create complex new modes.

The update ships with three EMS creations to show off a little what it can do, including Holdout--a neat little survival mode where you scavenge supplies to build fortifications and buy better gear. Mods with such delightful names as "Vicious Infected, Boomer Peril, Stranded, Vampirism, Plague of the Dead, Zombie Run, and Tiny Terror" are coming too, Valve says. Splendid.

The update converts L4D2 to the SteamPipe format too, for faster loading and downloads.

Check out the patch notes for the full rundown of what's new.

Half-Life - Alice O'Connor

After a grand fourteen years of development, splendid Half-Life mod Sven Co-op is wrapping things up. It's gone out with a bang, releasing on Friday a new version which adds co-op support for Gearbox's expansion Blue Shift. For old times' sake, gather a few friends, put on your HEV suits, and go adventuring in Black Mesa again.

"Version 4.8 will most likely be the final SC mod release, but this is by no means the end of Sven Co-op," the announcement says. "We have a major announcement to make soon," it teases, and we should hear something interesting in a few weeks.

Sven Co-op was jolly welcome back in the day, when co-op campaigns were pretty rare and Half-Life was ridiculously exciting. Yes, having a load of players running around as Gordon Freeman can make things a little silly, but it can also be a right lark.

Grab the mod from the mirrors. You'll need Half-Life to play it at all, and naturally Blue Shift too to join in that campaign. The 4.8 update also brings a ridiculous number of fixes and changes beyond Blue Shift, so do check the full changelog if you're interested.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two - Alice O'Connor

Double Action: Boogaloo may have missed its crowdfunding goal to fund full-time development, but it continues in slow-motion.

The John Woo-y HL2 mod, whose makers include folks behind Half-Life mod The Specialists, have dropped an alpha version which is naturally a bit barebones but has the core of what you want: akimbo pistols; dives; rolls; slides; wall-running; slow-motion; and other men to shoot.

You can download the alpha ("or is it beta?" the announcement wonders) from Mod DB. All you need to play it is to have the Source SDK Base 2007 installed on Steam.

The team ran a Kickstarter in March looking for $18,000 to let them skip work over the summer and finish up a proper release version, but only raised $1,586. Expect that first release to take a while longer, but it is still coming.


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