We don’t want to jump the gun here, but we think there just might be something to this whole “Steam” business after all . As of today, more than 25 million Steam accounts have been created – of which, 10 million are decked out with customizable profiles. The long and short of it: there are still plenty of hardcore PC gamers, so long as you know where to look.
Naturally, then, Steam’s overall sales were up 205 percent in 2009, which – while we have no concrete numbers – probably translates roughly to “heaps upon heaps of cash” for all involved.
“Steam turned five years old in March 2009,” said Valve’s Gabe Newell. “With the introduction of each new platform feature released over the years — such as the Steam Community, Steam Cloud, and Steamworks — we’ve seen corresponding growth in account numbers, concurrent player numbers and developer support for the platform.”
A toast to Steam! Without it, PC gaming might well have dried up altogether by now. Or – worse – we could all be using Games For Windows Live. Dun-dun-dun!
The Independent Games Festival just went down, and as usual, the Student Showcase is knocking everyone’s socks off. The Student Showcase has a history of producing some amazing stuff. In fact, Valve’s uber-successful Portal was a product of the Student Showcase in 2006. Several more recent entries are about to be released on WiiWare and the Xbox Live Arcade.
The ten winners are certainly upholding the tradition of excellence in the Student Showcase. If only you could sit down and experience them now... good news, you can. Only one of the ten is not yet available for public play, but even it should be out soon.
There’s something for every taste here. For the casual gamer there’s “Paper Cakes, where the player must sketch a path for their avatar to reach the goal. Paper Cakes is especially great if you have a Wacom tablet. If you fancy yourself the artsy type, try “Dreamside Maroon” and grow a vine to the moon. Want something fast paced? Download “Igneous” and stay ahead of the lava. Just check here for the full list complete with download links. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have some games to play.
Robots may not be able to (adequately) clean our houses, cook our meals, or rise up and sentence us to an eternity of house-cleaning and meal-cooking just yet, but they can play a mean game of king of the hill. And so, knowing this, Valve’s added bots to Team Fortress 2, though – at the moment – they’re still a few nuts and bolts short of completion.
“Since this is a beta test, the TFBots are only functional on these King of the Hill maps: koth_viaduct, koth_sawmill, and koth_nucleus. They don't understand the rules of multiple point capturing, cart pushing, or flag getting... yet,” Valve’s Mike Booth explained.
As for what makes these bots tick, Valve makes their method out to be a bit different than that of other developers. In a good way, of course.
“The bots have simulated humanlike senses, and only know what they see, hear, and touch. They also have realistic reaction times and aiming limitations. They don't ‘cheat’ or use omniscient knowledge of the server state to make their decisions,” Booth said.
Click through the link for instructions on how to add bots to your TF2 matches.
Not even a month removed from its penny-pincher friendly, yet – for us – utterly bank-breaking Thanksgiving sale, Steam’s back with more holiday deals than you can shake a stocking, jingle bell, or other holiday themed shakable object at.
As with last month’s sale, Valve’s elected to rotate in new deals each day until January 3, in addition to continuous discounts on nearly every game in its colossal catalog. So, what’s under the tree today? Well, in the “this would be a pretty decent deal under any other circumstance, but Mirror’s Edge is going for $4.99, GTA IV’s at $7.49, and STALKER’s at $1.99” category is Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising at $19.99. There are some other nice deals in there too, but for some reason, that one really stood out to us.
Now then, make with the buying. Not since the olde times when can-kicking was nearly an Olympic Sport could you purchase hours upon hours of cutting-edge entertainment for the price of a can of cola. Go live the consumerist dream.
Gotta say, it’s a bit ironic that a blood-soaked week of virtual warfare – during which, more than twelve million casualties met their abrupt, though most assuredly excruciating ends – is the perfect template for videogame immortality. But hey, when happenstance writes my jokes for me, who am I to complain? And so it is with Valve’s Team Fortress 2.
As you’re probably already aware, last week saw Valve launch its latest update for the now two year-old Team Fortress 2. Which, in videogame years, roughly equates to dead. And a half. At the very least, you’d expect the public eye – easily distracted as it is -- to have wandered elsewhere by now, leaving Valve’s wacky shooter to the vultures and tumbleweeds of the world. But it hasn’t. War, as with each of TF2’s other updates, grabbed all kinds of attention – even as newer games like Modern Warfare 2 watched jealously from the outside.
So, why hasn’t interest in Team Fortress 2 faded over the years? Well, I can’t uncover the entire recipe for Valve’s incredibly intricate immortality potion, but I can outline one of its major ingredients: presentation. When Valve gives TF2 a tune-up, it does so with style. While other developers are content to toss their DLC out into the cold, harsh world with little more than a press release to keep it warm, Valve rolls out the proverbial red carpet with comics, videos, week-long Advent Calendar-style reveals, and – most recently – in-game competitions.
At first, we were going to go with “Soldiers Win War,” but that actually describes the end of almost every war in history, so we decided to be a bit more specific. So, with that out of the way, here’s the nitty-gritty: Soldiers rocket-jumped their way right up to 6,406,065 kills, but Demomen did their greatest forefather (that we know of), William Wallace, proud and went down fighting – resulting in 6,372,979 Soldier casualties.
As a reward for murdering more Scotsmen than there actually are in Scotland, the Soldier gets a new pair of shoes. These shoes, called “The Gunboats,” are outfitted with the latest in shock-absorbing technology – by which we mean they can absorb explosions. The result: decreased damage taken while rocket jumping.
On top of that, in order to lure out some fresh blood, Valve’s hosting a free weekend of Team Fortress 2, which is already in progress. Or, if you’d rather cut out the middleman, simply buy the game at its discounted price of $9.99. Now then, we’re done talking at you. Go spend the weekend with those who really matter: a bunch of faceless online folks – most of whom you plan to shoot on sight.
In a game that’s all about an ongoing fictional war, you’d think that calling an update “war” might be a tad redundant. But since there really isn’t a better word for technologically advanced armed combat on a massive scale, Valve’s sticking with the tried and true “W” word. So, what’s War good for? Well, for the Soldier and Demoman, three new weapons are on the way. There’s a bit of a catch, though: The well-documented Demoman-Soldier bromance saga must come screeching to a very bloody halt.
See, along with the eternal currency known as “bragging rights,” a fourth weapon is up for grabs. To the winner goes the spoils, however, so the foes-turned-friends-turned-foes-again are duking it out for the final mystery weapon. Whoever tallies the most kills by the end of the week bags the big prize. And if you were wondering, right now, team Soldier is winning by a very slight margin, so go turn that tide, Demomen!
But if you’d rather create than destroy, there’s something in this update for you too. Using a brand new crafting system, you’ll be able to turn all of your useless duplicate items into whatever your mind can imagine. If all that your mind imagines is guns and hats.
The update goes live on Thursday, and you can preload the necessary files right now. Happy hunting!
Four humans versus thousands upon thousands of zombies. Left 4 Dead 2 doesn’t seem very fair, does it? Well, in early 2010, four familiar faces are looking to even the odds, which – by our math – makes the zombie apocalypse 0.000000001% more evenly matched. That’s right: Francis, Bill, Zoey, and Louis are back, and Coach, Rochelle, Ellis, and Nick are… still here! So they’re teaming up, in case that wasn’t the most obvious thing in the entire world.
“The Passing will become the most important campaign in the Left 4 Dead story, as all the Survivors are being called together in one campaign,” said Doug Lombardi, VP of marketing at Valve. “It will also be a huge offering of new gameplay content, with something new for every game mode plus a new uncommon common and weaponry.”
Taking place in a small town in rural Georgia, the DLC will also include a new co-op challenge mode. As for pricing, Valve’s not saying at the moment, but we’d be shocked if PC gamers were forced to drop a nickel or a dime on The Passing, as Valve’s PC content hasn’t traditionally carried a price tag.
The DLC’s out in early 2010. Which is nice, since we’ll need a relaxing Left 4 Dead 2 break in between our rigorous Mass Effect 2/BioShock 2 sessions.
Left 4 Dead 2 is great fun, but there are only so many maps that actually come with the game. And until Valve releases any additional map packs, community-created maps are your best bet for fresh content. But why not learn how to make your own custom maps? With Valve's Hammer World Editor and Google's free SketchUp program, it's actually much easier than you think.
Valve's Hammer is the game map editor that comes with the Left 4 Dead Software Development Kit (SDK). Google SketchUp is a free 3D design application that has myriad uses. Using both tools, you can design and make custom shapes and objects that would be impossible to generate with Hammer alone.
We're going to show you, step-by-step, how to use these tools to make a single Survival map for Left 4 Dead. We'll cover the basics of Hammer, the art of designing a building from a reference photo, and crafting simple objects to use in-game. The techniques we introduce apply to both Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. They'll also help you make maps for other Source engine games, like Counter-Strike, Half-Life 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2.
Grab and seat and dive in. Making a Left 4 Dead map is a perfect D-I-Y project for the Holiday weekend
Zombie hunting season is officially open, and Valve has another hit on its ESRB-compliant hands. After little more than two weeks on shelves, Left 4 Dead 2’s retail tally has slashed through the two million mark like a katana through brittle undead flesh.
“Left 4 Dead 2 is off to a great start with strong support at retail and great reviews from the press,” said Doug Lombardi, VP of marketing at Valve. “Meanwhile the title has already been played by over 1 million Xbox LIVE Gold account holders, and news regarding L4D2 DLC 1 is coming very soon.”
Valve also added that “sales to date are more than double the original title.”
As for the real zombie apocalypse, well, we're guessing that’s probably on hold. Odds are, its brain-munching participants are cemented to their screens at the moment, completely addicted to Left 4 Dead 2 just like the rest of us.