Yeah – this is getting pretty ridiculous. Just when you thought Valve’s market-dominating Steam service couldn’t cut any more off its game prices without bleeding money, they go and prove everyone wrong.
This weekend, Valve’s offering the Orange Box – a complete steal even at its original price – for $9.99. For those who haven’t been keeping score, the Orange Box contains Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episodes One and Two, Half-Life 2: The Lost Coast, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. Really, the only things this virtual incarnation of said box lacks are, well, actual oranges and any sort of box. But hey, you’re saving the trees for cheap, and isn’t that basically the American Dream?
So, six amazing games. Ten bucks. Breathing lightly on piggy bank will yield you that kind of scratch. Seriously, if you haven’t played these games, what are you even waiting for? Afraid you might lose your job while utterly engrossed in your new purchases? Well, if Steam keeps topping itself like this, you probably won’t need much money to keep your gaming appetite sated anyway.
Hot on the lickety-quick heels of the Scout, TF2’s Sniper class is next in line for an update. And if you thought the Scout’s new toys weren’t a big enough deal, you’ll be happy to hear that the Sniper update will be – at the very least – .0001% larger.
"It's actually shaping up to be the largest TF2 update yet, with multiple new maps and a bunch of gameplay tweaks," wrote Greg Cherlin on Valve's Team Fortress blog.
As with other class updates, the update will include unlockable items and a set of class-specific achievements. Maybe a new hat, or support for a large, plastic rifle peripheral, we’re hoping.
But what if you really, truly loathe TF2’s suavest psychopath, and just don’t think your current arsenal allows you to kill him hard enough?
"We've got another update in the works that should be done before the Sniper, and that one will include some new content for all classes," Cherlin explained.
See? Everybody wins. Valve understands the meaning of a good compromise. Giving everyone everything they want – through head-perforating violence!
Other Valve games, we’re sure you’re great and all, but we think Valve is playing favorites. Really, just look at the numbers: Left 4 Dead, Valve’s tossing you just enough of the ol’ meat and mead to ensure your survival. And Half-Life 2: Episode 3, we thought we saw you once in a tabloid with Bigfoot, but that might’ve just been this guy. Meanwhile, it seems like Team Fortress 2 gains some new appendage at least once perweek, and, well, you can probably guess where this is going.
This week’s TF2 to-do adds multicore CPU rendering to the team-based shooter’s ever-growing repertoire, though it’s apparently not quite ready for primetime just yet. From the patch notes:
Added Multicore Rendering
This initial release is aimed at testing compatibility, so the option is OFF by default
To turn it on, go to the Options->Video->Advanced dialog, and check the "Multicore Rendering" option
Well, that’s all for now, TF2 fans. See you guys and gals next week.
All servers are not created equal. Some leave you feeling all warm-and-squishy after each match, while others insult humanity as a whole nearly as often as they insult your mother. Valve understands this and – with an eagerness to please its fans that’s borderline depressing (Just imagine: you’ll probably never be as devoted to anything as Valve is to you) – has braved the numerical gorilla pen that is mathematics in order to bring you a solution.
"After kicking around some proposals, we came up with a simple system built around the theory that player time on a server is a useful metric for how happy the player is with that server. It's game rules agnostic, and we can measure it on our steam backend entirely from steam client data, so servers can't interfere with it,” said Valve’s Robin Walker.
The finished product, then, operates on a point system -- sending well-behaved servers out for some time in the yard and booting rabble-rousers straight to the chair.
“In short, servers that have lots of players joining & leaving rapidly will score badly. Servers that consistently have players join and stay on for long periods of time will score well,” Walker explained.
“Our first step in improving this part of the player experience has been to delist all the really bad servers. The master server will simply stop giving these to you when you fire up the serverbrowser.”
“After that, we're going to keep improving our ability to measure this kind of problem.”
When you’re playing a Scout, you have to be nimble, quick, and able to jump over candle sticks burning metal death at a moment’s notice, so shedding a few pounds probably isn’t a bad idea.
With that in mind, in honor of its recently released Scout update, Valve has decided to lop a few digits off TF2’s already trim (and even a tad sexy) price tag. To be honest, we’re not sure if it’s healthy, but then, who are we to judge?
The sale runs until Friday and sees Valve’s Crayola-tinged diatribe about the horrors of war drop down to a mere $10. Not jumping on this would probably be one of the biggest mistakes of your life. Your future wife can wait.
And really, what else are you going to buy for ten smackaroos? Oh, right.
When two diametrically opposed sides (Blue? More like Bluh-ewwwww) are forever submerged in the flames of war, an arms race is only natural. Miniguns, automated sentry rockets, curative edible devices – war is hell, but when the robots rise up and squash our silly conflict with a cold, metallic fist, they’ll have some damn fine gear with which to do it. However, one man doesn’t need any of that conflabbed technology; put him on the bus with a baseball bat and a crisp, refreshing beverage and he’ll come back with straight-A’s – in ass-kicking.
He’s the Scout, and with his brand new update, he’s more ready than ever to back up his big talk. Or he will be, anyway, after a bit of unlocking.
First up, after a mere ten achievements, you’ll nab the Force-A-Nature, which is a shotgun that – along with walloping your foes something fierce – forcefully coaxes enemies right out of your personal bubble and, if you’re lucky, into all kinds of fun environmental hazards.
Five achievements later, the Sandman will show up on your doorstep. It’s a bat. It hits things. Mostly baseballs. Go stand on the wrong end of a batting cage to find out what it does.
And finally, after a lifetime (read: 20) of achievement, you’ll be able to kick back with a crisp, refreshing beverage. Well, until you drink said beverage. Then, with “several hundred times the daily recommended allowance of sugar” screaming through your veins, you’ll be ready to “dodge bullets like they ain’t even there!” (Note: Post-digestion hangovers are perfectly normal. Really, it happens to everyone. If you don’t get them, you’re probably not cool.)
So yeah, there’s the update. Go download it. Tell ‘em Maximum PC sent you. You won’t get anything, but any publicity is good publicity, we think.
You should be excited about this. Like, sure-let’s-raise-and-drop-the-New-Year’s-Ball-again excited. If you don’t know why, here’s some homework.
Anyway, at today’s Valve DICE keynote, Gabe Newell announced that a series of Valve-penned comics are setting up shop on Valve’s Monopoly map, and – even better – that they will receive their Certified Fine Art status from the team responsible for Valve’s “Meet the” series of Team Fortress 2 movies.
Ahem. Apparently, the comic is meant to “excite customers about the company’s games outside of creating game content.”
Delightful. 2009 is now officially Best Year of the Century.
In a talky-torial published at The Escapist, Team Fortress 2 developer Robin Walker hinted at yet another presumably free addition to TF2’s bullet-ridden house of hilarity. And fortunately for those who’ve moved onto grayer pastures, the article touts a “very different” mode currently just out of sniping range.
"A new Payload map is in the works, more community maps are on the way and the team will soon unveil a very different new game mode," read the article.
In addition, Walker confirmed that Valve has all manner of new class designs just waiting to get their shots at the small screen, but wouldn’t give a timeframe for their deployment.
“We've got several new class designs floating around, some of which we like a lot, but right now we're focusing on the broadening of our existing classes through the addition of the unlockables," he said.
Frankly, as long as Valve tosses up a few more “Meet the ____” movies, we’ll be dandy. How about you?
Research group The Nielsen Company recently released a list of 2008’s 10 most played PC games, but seeing as how you’re probably still scraping bolded numbers off your monitor after you last careened into our listsanctum, we nearly skipped it. However, as it turns out, Nielsen’s runway strut contained a pretty interesting anomaly, so we want you to look at it.
Top 10 PC Game Titles in the U.S.
World of Warcraft (2004) / Blizzard Entertainment 671 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.723% AU*
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007) / Infinity Ward 403 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.163% AU*
Halo: Combat Evolved (2003) / Gearbox, Bungie 295 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.092% AU*
The Sims (2000) / EA Maxis 213 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.09% AU*
The Sims 2 (2004) / EA Maxis 291 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.086% AU*
RuneScape (2001) / Jagex Ltd. 451 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.084% AU*
Diablo II (2000) / Blizzard Entertainment 313 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.065% AU*
Team Fortress 2 (2007) / Valve 371 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.063% AU*
Counter-Strike (2000) / Valve 282 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.062% AU*
Counter-Strike: Source (2004) / Valve 426 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.061% AU*
*AU is the percent of PC Gamers playing title in the average minute. Data from Jan - Oct 2008.
Notice anything? Yep. Not a single game on the list was released in 2008 – except for maybe WoW: WotLK, but even then, this is telling sign of where PC gaming now needs to park its tuckus. Bottom line: Subscriptions and microtransactions. You’re welcome, industry. Our bill’s in the mail.