Gordon Freeman’s a bit of an odd duck. He’s fended off aliens, won the hearts of millions, and – most mystifyingly of all – graduated from MIT, all without making a peep. In this day and age of highly cinematic videogames, though, has the idea of a “silent protagonist” worn out its welcome? Not according to Valve’s Gabe Newell.
"We're not philosophically opposed to this, but we don't have any good reasons to do it,” Newell replied when asked if he’d ever consider unzipping Gordon Freeman’s lips. “Right now making your companions more interesting and compelling seems a more fruitful avenue to explore."
In addition, when asked if Valve has considered giving Gordon Freeman a better sense of “embodiment” – ala Mirror’s Edge – Newell stuck to his guns.
"We haven't had a reason to change that. Most of what I've seen to date has been gimmicky and is entertaining for just a minute or so."
Only in videogames can one of our greatest heroes be a mute disembodied floating arm. Well, unless we’re counting the Addams Family, anyway.
In case you need a reminder, we at MPC are pretty big Left 4 Dead 2 fans. In fact, if you were able to make it even half-way through our review of Valve’s fine-tuned take on cooperative zombie-slaughter without giving Valve a heaping handful of your money, well, we’re pretty sure you just hate being happy. Or, perhaps you made the mistake of wasting your precious funds on pointless causes like food and your family, and simply couldn’t afford Left 4 Dead 2. In which case, everything’s fine and dandy now, because Valve’s put the game on sale at the extremely attractive price of $24.99.
The sale runs from now until Thursday, and applies not just to vanilla Left 4 Dead 2, but also to any bundles that include the game. So basically, we recommend that you pounce on this deal like a starving, family-less guy who spent his last few bucks on Left 4 Dead 2 pouncing on free samples at the grocery store. Or something.
Valve also points out that Left 4 Dead 2’s eagerly anticipated “The Passing” DLC is coming sometime this spring, and will include – among other things – multiple brand new game modes. As in, more than one. Since Valve wrote that announcement in all caps, we’re gonna assume it’s a big deal. More details soon, we hope.
Seeing Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” on its opening night was a surprisingly illuminating experience for me. For one, I learned that – in my case, at least – introspection and trying to not get trampled by an ocean-like mass of 200 some-odd frothing, cosplaying fans are activities that go hand-in-hand. But as I watched/avoided becoming a doormat for a bunch of Wonderland wannabes, I realized something else: these people didn’t brave the cold (and the dark corners of their parents’ closets) because of their undying love for the timeless tale of Alice and her oddball companions. They did it because Tim Burton’s name was attached to the film. It could have been Tim Burton’s “Barney the Dinosaur” and they’d all have donned purple dinosaur costumes in a heartbeat.
I highly doubt that Infinity Ward’s planned not-Modern Warfare 3 project would’ve been received with such open arms. And evidently, so does Activision.
After all, former Infinity Ward bosses Jason West and Vince Zampella felt so creatively confined as to allegedly defy their contract with Activision and start making eyes EA, so clearly someone wasn’t exactly gung-ho about the Call of Duty creator’s bold new direction. Knowing Infinity Ward, though, regardless of the form the new project took, it probably would’ve been a fantastic game. So what gives? Well, at this point, I can only speculate, but money talks, and it’s telling me that Infinity Ward’s mystery game simply wasn’t a guaranteed mega-hit like Modern Warfare 3’s destined to be. Activision, in case you’d forgotten, likes money quite a lot.
We don't often post Mac-centric news (being primarily a Windows PC-based site and all), but every once in awhile, we can't help ourselves. This happens to be one of those times.
Valve yesterday announced plans to bring Steam, its gaming service, and Source, Valve's gaming engine, to the Mac platform.
"As we transition from entertainment as a product to entertainment as a service, customers and developers need open, high-quality Internet clients," said Gabe Newell, President of Valve. "The Mac is a great platform for entertainment services."
Valve said its library of games, including Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, Portal, and the Half-Life series, will all be available next month, though the company didn't specify an exact date. And these won't be run through emulation, but natively.
"We looked at a variety of methods to get our games onto the Mac and in the end decided to go with native versions rather than emulation," said John Cook, Director of Steam Development. "The inclusion of WebKit into Steam, and of OpenGL into Source gives us a lot of flexibility in how we move these technologies forward. We are treating the Mac as a tier-1 platform so all of our future games will release simultaneously on Windows, Mac, and the Xbox 360."
In addition, Cook said that Mac and Windows players will be part of the same multiplayer universe, so it will be entirely possible to settle the debate between PC vs Mac in head-to-head matchups.
In addition to the expected return of GlaDOS (she is “still alive,” after all) and an all new single-player mode packed with “devious test chambers,” Portal 2 promises a completely separate co-op campaign that has even the mighty collective MPC Megabrain crying in a corner just thinking about it.
Also, if GameStop's listing’s anything to go on, Portal 2 will probably be a fair bit beefier content-wise than its predecessor – at least, if it hopes to wear its suggested $49.99 price tag with pride and not shame and regret.
Unfortunately, that’s all that’s trickled out, for now. But hey, look at it this way: Gabe Newell has to pass the time during his GDC award acceptance speech somehow, and while thanking his family and God or whoever is great, it’s so passé. The solution? Portal 2 footage. This, of course, after he approaches the podium, grasps his award, leans in close to the microphone and whispers, “This was a triumph. I’m making a note here: huge success.”
Valve recently kicked-off one of the most creative alternate reality games we’ve ever encountered. Yesterday, the developer updated its time-and-space-continuum-defying puzzler Portal with a single achievement and a bunch of hidden radio transmissions – some of which were encoded in Morse Code and one of which was, we kid you not, encoded in double Morse Code, and turned out to be the Morse Code for the Morse Code for “LOL.” Oh, Valve.
Anyway, eager fans have been working ‘round the clock to get to the bottom of Valve’s creative caper, and have uncovered – among other things – a few ASCII pictures and some dialogue from Aperture Science founder Cave Johnson. He seems like a great guy, too, as evidenced by nuggets like this one:
"Plus, in the event of your death, I personally guarantee that, thanks to the form you were required to sign this morning, your family will not suffer the indignities of a prolonged and costly legal battle against Aperture Science. Trust me, I am rich, and it is a burden I would not wish on anyone."
So, when will we find out more? Nothing’s set in stone, but the running theory is that something’s happening on March 11, as a version of GlaDOS that’s shown up in the ARG is marked “3.11,” which is also the date Gabe Newell’s set to receive the Pioneer Award at this year’s Game Developer’s Conference.
So, yeah. Mark your calendars, folks. Portal 2’s on the way, we hope. And if it’s not? Well then, this ARG might just take the cake for biggest letdown of all time. (We apologize for that one. Sincerely.)
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.