PC Gamer
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As reported on Gamasutra, a bunch of Valve's writers have been taking part in a roundtable question and answer session at GDC Online.

Read on for some insight from some of the most talented writers in the industry.

Valve might be famous for its use of silent protagonists but according to Mark Laidlaw, one of the writers at Valve, it can be a restrictive on a studio's creativity: "Now that some of Valve's most popular protagonists are silent, there’s no turning back. “At this point we’re fully committed to it and taking it as far as it possibly could go.”

Eric Wolpaw, another writer at Valve, also provided some insight. Referring to Valve's hugely successful free to play game, TF2, he said: “that whole game is us desperately trying to keep our jobs."

“Comedy stuff is tougher because it’s more subjective and it’s really hard to gauge peoples’ reaction," he said. Wolpaw added that sometimes it’s a bit depressing, when people playtest a part in a game that’s supposed to be funny, and there's little reaction. “Pretty much no one that played Portal 2 cracked a smile, but testers still said the game was funny... It’s hard to tell if a joke is failing or not.”

Laidlaw was equally humble when referring to his own work: “We fail all the time, we just don’t advertise it too much...we always want to feel like we’re on the edge and challenging ourselves and growing all the time.”

What's your favourite example of writing in games? Let us know in the comments.

PC Gamer
Portal 2  - Atlas and P body
If you notice Portal 2 updating today, don't be alarmed: it's only because you're getting the new Portal 2: Peer Review DLC for free. If you don't have a copy of Portal 2 to update, Valve have that covered as well: it's on sale for 50% off through the 6th.

Peer Review adds a new multiplayer test track for robo-buddies P-body and Atlas, and features a single-player and co-op Challenge mode.

PC Gamer
Portal 2 - bouncy blue turrets
Wednesday October 5. That will be the day in which the Portal 2 Peer Review DLC will be released. The free mission pack will extend Atlas and Peabody's co-op adventure and add a new challenge mode for single player and co-op maps.

Back when Valve announced first DLC pack, they also mentioned leaderboards so all your friends and a bunch of strangers will all know how exactly how smart you are (or aren't), which explains the 'Peer Review' handle. That means your performance will be graded by both Glados AND the conglomerate hivemind of the The Internet. NO PRESSURE.

In more 'free stuff from Valve' news, the third volume of the Portal 2 soundtrack, Songs to Test By, is available now on the Portal 2 site, featuring such classic hits as Some Assembly Required, Your Precious Moon and Robots FTW.
PC Gamer

If the portals in Portal could take you back in time, a) your mind would break, and b) it would look like this.

It's a video of a prototype made by game designer Arthur Lee, in which you can create portals by taking screenshots. Whatever you snapped is what you'll see through the portal. Where it gets braintingling, though, is that the portal will take you back to the time when you took that screenshot. In other words, the portals don't just fold space, they fold time as well. So that's nice.

As Mike Rose over at IndieGames.com points out, there's your Portal 3 right there.
PC Gamer

A lovely bit of news from RPS this morning. If you don't already own it, you can download Portal for nothing on Steam. It's being made free to download until September 20. If you download it before then, you'll own it forever.

It's all part of Valve's Learn With Portals initiative, which aims to promote Portal's reality bending puzzles as an educational tool, and hopes to encourage the next generation to start building a new wave of even more dastardly test chambers. You can see our future tormentors learning the basics at Valve HQ in the video above. You can build your own levels with the free Portal authoring tools, which you'll find the "tools" section of your Steam library.
PC Gamer
Steam trading beta
The Steam trading beta we mentioned a month ago has stumbled out of the beta wilderness into the bright sunshine of a full release. Valve's own Portal 2 and free to play MMO Spiral Knights are the first games outside of TF2 to join the trading program, which means you'll be able to swap Team Fortress 2 and unredeemed Steam games for Spiral Knights loot and gear from the Portal 2 item store.

Valve announced the launch of the Steam trading beta on the Team Fortress 2 blog, where they also mention that more than a million items have been traded in the beta period. "To celebrate, items are on sale in the Team Fortress 2, Portal 2, and Spiral Knights in-game stores," the blog post says. To invite someone to trade, open up a Steam chat window, open up the drop down menu next to their name and select "invite to trade." For a full run down of how trading works, check out Valve's Steam Trading FAQ.
PC Gamer
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You've completed Portal 2 by now right? No? Ridiculous. Go and finish it off now...

What an ending eh? What a tune. But sadly, "Exile, Vilify" - the track by The National that sounds during the Portal 2 end credits - didn't get released with its own music video. To compensate, Valve set up a competition which attempted to correct the oversight. They promised an Eastwood guitar signed by The National and "the ultimate box of schwag" to the person who created the best video to represent the song. 320 people entered and the winning entry is embedded below.

Valve say judging the competition was a nightmarish job. Especially when they got down to the best two videos on offer. In fact, it was so tricky, they gave up and lumped all responsibility on The National themselves to pick the winner. At least they presented similar prize bundle (minus the guitar but plus an Aperture 2 bag signed by the Portal 2 team) to the runner up for their work.

First place went to this moving, sock-focused piece:

And 1.00000000001th place went to this more Portal 2-focused piece of animation.

Second place is also worthy of a watch, but contains less pure sock action.

Which was your favourite? I go with The National's choice.

If this has all got you in the mood for more Portal 2-themed songs, download the soundtrack for free. Alternatively, revisit one of this year's best armed with our secrets guide.
PC Gamer
Portal 2 comic - part 2
A 304 page collection Valve comics is set to be released in the US later this year, according to listings on the Dark Horse site, spotted by Kotaku. The tome will be called Valve Presents: The Sacrifice and other Steam-Powered Stories, and will contain all of the promotional comics Valve have released online over the last year or so, including Left 4 Dead comic, The Sacrifice, the recent Portal 2 comic, and the excellent Team Fortress 2 shorts. The collection will cost $29.99 and is out on November 16. You'll find the cover art below, click to view it full size.

PC Gamer
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The recent Steam Summer Camp Sale has brought new achievements and in-game rewards, along with a bumper selection of cheap games. Today is "Encore Day!" Unless Valve go for a stadium-satisfying multi-encore finish, it's your final chance to download a bargain. All the games are picked from the week's top sellers.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 for £4.99/$7.50, Terraria for £2.99/$4.99 and Magicka for £2.71/$3.39? Yes please. Click through for more details of today's deals.

You've got just over six hours to grab these bargains:

Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition - £7.50/$7.50

Just Cause 2 - £3.49/$4.99

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - £5.00/$7:50

Sanctum - £2.49/$3.75

Portal 2 - £14.99/$24.99

Dawn of War: Retribution - £14.99/$14.99

Total War: Shogun 2 - £17.99/$29.99

The Witcher 2 - £23.44/$33.49

Terraria - £2.99/$4.99

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood - £14.99/$19.99

Fallout New Vegas - £8.99/$14.99

Two Worlds 2 - £8.50/$17.00

Grand Theft Auto IV: Episodes from Liberty City - £6.24/$9.99

Magicka - £2.71/$3.39

What's the best bargain you've ever picked up in a Steam sale? Back in 2008, £6.99 was a great price for Team Fortress 2. How naive.
Jul 10, 2011
PC Gamer

Have you ever been playing Call of Duty when... OK, yeah, stupid question. Start again. DID you ever play Call of Duty once and think "Man, I really wish I wasn't shooting middle-eastern terrorists. I just want to shoot demonic freaks from Hell!"? Well your wish can come true if you head over to the severs of Doom II (yes, they're still there) where a mod is currently playing that adjusts sounds and gun models from the old 1990's originals to something with a bit more of a Modern Warfare flavour. Real Guns Advanced 2 can be found on Skulltag

Brett Sanderson. You probably wouldn't recognise him at first (on account that he doesn't have a face), but hang around him a little while and things will start to feel a bit more familiar. His identity will probably click around about the time when those two black metal balls he has in his hands explode, reducing you to little more than bonemeal and a splatter of crimson. "Oh yes!" you'll think in your last moments. "I remember you! You're THAT guy from Serious Sam! The one that screams and runs right at you!"

If you've played any old school Battlefield games, chances are there's a warm fuzzy place in your heart for Wake Island. One of DICE's most popular maps, it's getting a spectacular make over for Battlefield 3. Lesser known is the fact it's also getting a make over for Battlefield Heroes too, albeit one of a far more colourful nature. Cue that jolly whistling theme tune and Tonka toy Spitfires blasting each other apart over a very green looking island.

Far Cry 2 is beloved by several members of the PCG team, and for good reason. Despite the exceptionally annoying relentlessness of every enemy wanting your blood the moment they hear you step on a twig, it's a beautifully designed wonder that immerses you the the fullest extent possible. Far Cry 3 perhaps doesn't share its predecessors lofty ambition, but its recognition of FC2's short-comings means that it will be potentially the middle-ground between the first and second game's visions. A free-roaming tropical expanse that offers significant choice without making the exploration a grinding chore. This latest demo from behind the doors at E3 shows one of the numerous ways of tackling this scenario; making a spectacle by zip-lining into an enemy base whilst firing off rounds from a pistol. Kick-ass? We think so.

We love bombastic combat involving zip-lines, but going a slightly more tactical way is something we like to do too. That's the beauty of games; with just a disc swap or double click in Steam, we can experience entirely new combat scenarios. The one we'll soon be taking on is that of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and the latest Developer Diary focuses on the game's varied approach to combat. Showing off some close-quarters and ranged options, the video also demonstrates some of the user interface, and you can grab a look-see at the inventory (still sporting an old-school grid layout) and the upgrade screen where you'll spend your Praxis points on augmentations. The one where you can launch tiny mines from your limbs looks particularly attractive if you're into mass close-range slaughter.

Portal was arguably one of the most quoted games of 2007/8, with "The cake is a lie!" plastered on every forum in all corners of the interwebz. Portal 2 took on its older sibling's legacy with rants about potato power, but more popular was the fast-paced spiel from the game's various personality cores. You can listen to every quote from the Space sphere here, should your mind be able to cope with it.

Finally, do you love cats? Our editor Tim loves cats. He once told me in a pub how much he loves his cat. Well Tim, is your cat as bad-ass as Medal of Honor Cat? Well, is he? IS HE?