Team Fortress 2 developers Valve have put together "the most accurate simulation of an actual Valentine's Day gift ever made available to the public", and today made it available as an in-game item to owners of the multiplayer shooter.
That simulation comes in the form of a $100 diamond engagement ring, which Valve admits is "basically useless". It can only be gifted, and once sent to a player, if it's accepted, the entire TF2 community will get a message broadcasting the engagement. Both players will then be wearing the ring on their in-game models.
So it's only basically useless, not entirely useless! It can, if someone actually pays up, be heart-warming. And also a useful experiment to test just when, and how, people will stop buying superfluous shit for this game.
Happy Valentine's Day! [Valve]
There's a new item in Team Fortress 2 that the Scout can employ which plays music. Sounds pretty trivial, but man, you've got to read Valve's description of the item.
My radio's bad from the Boulevard.
I'm a hip-hop gangster and my name is Todd.
Terrorising my neighbours with the heavy bass.
I keep the suckas in fear by the look on my face.
-LL Cool J, 1985
Most people only know LL Cool J as a rapper, actor, fashion designer, record producer, and author. Now, though, you can add "spooky-ass Nostradamus" to that list, because we've just released a misc slot item for the Scout called "The Boston Boom Bringer" that pretty much exactly matches the lyrics LL penned almost thirty years ago. Is it a radio? Yes! Is it "bad"? Yes! When you taunt while it's equipped, will it play music to terrorize your neighbors and scare suckas? Yes! Are you a hip-hop gangster named Todd? That's gonna vary from person to person, obviously, but it's not totally out of the question! The point is, there's probably an LL Cool J song that predicts your death. The secondary point is everything we just said about the sweet new boom box item.
We went through LL Cool J's back catalog looking for other prescient rap songs that described musical items available for the other eight classes, but apparently one of the Ls stands for "lazy", because it doesn't look like he wrote any. So just in case anyone out there wants to succeed where LL Cool J failed, we've added a special "Sound Device" category to both the in-game item submission UI and in the Workshop so that you can tag your sound-themed submissions. Make something good enough and it may join the ranks of Aladdin's Private Reserve, The Conquistador, and the Lucky Shot, all great community-made items we've shipped this year that were mentioned by name on rap oracle LL Cool J's 1987 album "Bigger and Deffer".
Is it wrong I enjoyed that description more than I'll probably enjoy the item itself?
I Can't Taunt Without My Radio [Valve]
Brazilian artist Will Murai has worked extensively in the video games, comics and advertising industries. But that's not why we're here today. We're talking about Will because of his amazing fan art.
Using a style that's halfway between 'classic pin-up" and "newspaper caricature", Murai has paid the ultimate, illustrative homage to some of his favourite characters and series.
We've actually shown one of these before, as his Assassin's Creed piece was selected for Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: The Encyclopedia, but above you'll find images drawn in tribute to Darkstalkers, Team Fortress 2, Neon Genesis, Akira and more.
You can see more of Will's work at his personal site.
Will Murai [Official Site]
Should you ever feel the need to propose to that special someone in the middle of a game of Team Fortress 2, you can now do just that, after developers Valve added an official wedding ring to the game.
It's called the Something Special For Someone Special, and is available as a crafted item. It was added as part of a December 19 update to the game.
If you want to use it to actually propose, great! If not, I'm sure machinima creators will put it to good use.
Done with that Zynga story? Thought that was all the economics you were getting today? Nope. While he's not recommending investor action, writer Paul Manwaring did some number crunching and conservatively valued Team Fortress 2's unique items economy at, oh, about $50 million.
Now, that's not $50 million in real money that Valve has either made, or has been invested by gamers into a system and is floating around loose somewhere. Hats and unique items are found by unlocking crates, crates are unlocked with keys, and keys can be acquired for free, basically at the equivalence of 18 dropped weapons to one key. (They may also be bought for actual money, too.) This is a valuation, nothing more.
Manwaring examined the statistics kept (and made public) for TF2 and, long story short, finds that a community of 30,000 concurrent players each day in TF2 on Steam is injecting $1.54 million worth of "refined metal" into this virtual economy each week. Refined metal is what creates a key. Since the hat economy began in May 2009, Manwaring estimates that "we can be confident in a minimum figure of $52.7 million," as its valuation, "without even taking into account weapons bought in the store, promotional items and more. The true figure is probably double this."
I highly recommend you read Manwaring's entire post. Again, it's not money in Valve's bank account. But it is another way to characterize the enthusiasm and time investment Team Fortress 2's dedicated players sink into the game.
The $50 Million Virtual Millinery [Paul Manwaring, for The Online Society]
I celebrate Australian Christmas with cold beer and barbecued meat. Valve, well, Valve celebrate it a little differently. In 2010 they took Team Fortress 2 all medieval, and in 2011, they're sending it into space.
Continuing a partnership began earlier this year, the first items coming as part of the festive update are from WETA's Dr. Grordbort, giving the Engineer some new weapons and tools and the Pyro just some new weapons. All of which look amazing.
There are the customary comics as well, the Pyro's prominence thus far giving fans hope that this Christmas, finally, may be the time we get to Meet the Pyro. And get some questions answered.
[Team Fortress 2]
Prop builder Zander Brandt, whose awesome Mass Effect rifle we've featured previously, has for his next project done something a little faster, a little more obnoxious.
It's the Force-A-Nature, one of the best weapons available for Team Fortress 2's Scout.
While it may not be one of Team Fortress 2's more memorable weapons, that doesn't make this replica any less impressive. I love the gloss effect, giving it that cartoon shine, just like the game.
The cosplay modelling is also a cute touch.
Team Fortress 2: Force a' Nature [Zander Brandt]
It shouldn't be hard to guess who it is, either. Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson was invited to play in Team Fortress 2's third Mixup event. Playing on RED, he was teamed with Valve's Jon Lippincott and Cobalt's Daniel Brynolf (against a BLU comprising filmmaker Freddy Wong, Valve's Robin Walker, and others). After Notch collected the "Primeval Warrior" medal in a later game, Walker also presented him with the "Top Notch" hat.
As described by the Team Fortress 2 wiki, the hat is a cardboard box that resemble's Notch's avatar in the visual style of Minecraft It's equippable by all classes (as this gallery shows) although because of its size, "it significantly clips with items that exist in the whole head, necklace, glasses, ears, face and beard equip regions."
As of now, Notch is the only one to possess it. From "Top Notch's" description:
Welcome to a secret society so exclusive it makes the Illuminati look like a Costco. How exclusive? You are the only member. This is the only item of its kind in all of existence. So don't craft it, Miney.
In case you're thinking Notch doesn't have skills deserving of such a trophy, check out this box score from another match, in which he was the overall high scorer, also bagging 37 kills.
I Love Team Fortress 2 [The Word of Notch]
"Top Notch"-equipped Demoman
"Top Notch"-equipped Engineer
"Top Notch"-equipped Heavy
"Top Notch"-equipped Medic
"Top Notch"-equipped Pyro
"Top Notch"-equipped Scout
"Top Notch"-equipped Sniper
"Top Notch"-equipped Soldier
"Top Notch"-equipped Spy
The hosts of this video, HouseholdGamer, call this series of Skyrim tweaks a "Team Fortress 2" mode. I can see the resemblance, but to me, it looks like like a Killer7 mode.
It looks this weird because there are no textures. None whatsoever. There's just 3D models, the sky and you, which is why everything looks so naked. And surprisingly awesome.
Skyrim Without Textures Looks...Pretty Cool, Actually [GameSetWatch]
If you'd like a free insane costume for the Heavy in Team Fortress 2, you have about two days to pick it up. It also helps if you want Saints Row: The Third on PC, as that's what you have to preorder to grab it.
The game, which is $49.99 comes with three pieces of flair: "The Mark of the Saint," or a shiny badge that any class may wear; then the "Apoco-Fists" and "The Cold War Luchador," which are Heavy-only. (Seen above). All this stuff is based on the Luchadores gang from Saints Row: The Third who are themselves rather robust individuals.
History Comes Alive! [Team Fortess Blog]