Anything can become boring if you do it enough. Skydiving, surfing, and avoiding surefire undead death are just a few non-specific examples. But a change of scenery is always great for freshening things up, so Valve’s decision to add custom campaign support to Left 4 Dead is much appreciated. After all, tussling with hungry zombies is one thing, but fending off boredom? That’s just too much.
Adding your zombie-infested obstacle course to Left 4 Dead is as simple as uploading it to a single .VPK file, which other players need only double-click to install. Campaigns and other add-ons can then be managed in Left 4 Dead, ensuring that you’ll never have to be out of Left 4 Dead’s loving embrace for long. There’s also matchmaking, leaderboards, and auto-updates for the lazy, competitive, and lazy, respectively.
The update’s waiting for you over on Steam. So what are you waiting for? Remember, you’re the only one who’s ever come up with the idea for a “Thriller” tribute map. Why keep your brilliance from the rest of the world?
Here’s a weird one. Apparently, the ESRB – you know, the guys who make Tiger Woods play tennis and put age ratings on games – aren’t too keen on finger-removal. Lop off a thumb here or there and everything’s peachy, but mess with bling finger or pinky and things get real. How real? Well, according to Valve, real enough to warrant some serious alterations to its Left 4 Dead 2 logo.
Originally, Left 4 Dead 2’s disembodied hand was missing three of its digital digits, leaving only the pointer and middle to fend for themselves. The ESRB, however, wouldn’t stand for that, telling Valve that future marketing materials couldn’t include such a malformed mascot. As a result, now only the thumb is missing, which apparently complies with the ESRB’s stringent zombie hand guidelines.
We’d just like to – ahem – point out that Left 4 Dead 2 is an M-Rated game, full of blood, gore, and Boomer vomit. Two or more gnawed off fingers, though? That’s crossing the line. And who knows? Maybe a few missing digits on the front of the game box might ward off clueless parents more effectively than a tiny, easily obscured letter. Regardless, ESRB, sometimes we wonder about you.
After Valve announced Left 4 Dead 2’s near-complete status at last week’s E3, L4D 1 players took up their pitchforks. After all, a sequel to any sort of multiplayer game is typically the final nail in the coffin of a developer’s ongoing support for that game, so why should Valve – one of the first major companies to embrace digital downloads, comedic reactions to PR flubs, and portal technology – be any different from everyone else?
Well, looks like you’ve once again underestimated Valve. So guess what you get for that costly mistake? That’s right: everything you wanted.
"Doing a sequel in one year is new for Valve. But providing ongoing support for our titles after the initial launch isn't - it has been part of our philosophy since Half-Life was released ten and half years ago," said Valve president Gabe Newell in a statement to Kotaku. "We see no reason to change that and will continue to support the over three million customers in the L4D community."
“In addition to the recently released Survival Pack, we are releasing authoring tools for Mod makers, community matchmaking, 4x4 matchmaking, and more new content during the coming months for L4D1," Newell says. "We also agree with our customers that there needs to be an interoperability plan for players of L4D1 and L4D2, as multiplayer games are driven by the cohesiveness of their community."
And so, Valve gives everyone everything they ask for. As usual. Seriously, how can you whine and gripe at that? It’s like screaming at a fireman for not salvaging your favorite family picture after he saved your mom, dad, cat, dog, potted plant, and sister who you didn’t like all that much and would’ve rather had the picture. Cut Valve some slack people. God forbid you have to actually pay for content every once in a while.
Despite being the sequel to what was possibly last year’s best PC game, Valve’s recently unveiled Left 4 Dead 2 seems to be public enemy number one on gamers’ lists of E3 announcements they love 2 hate. Why? Answers range from “Team Fortress 2 got free stuff! Why not L4D?” to “L4D2’s too colorful!” Valve, though, believe it or not, isn’t out to bleed its loyal fans dry (at least, not outside its game). There is, in fact, a method to this madness. Valve’s Chet Faliszek explained:
“In Team Fortress you can do one map, and it's a standalone map and it tells its internal story and you're good. In Left 4 Dead, when we started talking about new characters, all of a sudden we were talking about maps, then all of a sudden we were talking about campaign, and then director 2.0, hey, we're in the swamps,” he told Shacknews.
How can Valve hope to accomplish all of this in only a single year? Well, in a sense, the developer’s outsourcing that. To a robot.
Left 4 Dead’s A.I. Director 2.0 does everything the first Director did – and more. Along with positioning zombies such that you’re always positioned on the edge of your seat, the rapidly evolving A.I. will now control weather and dynamic pathing. Faliszek elaborated on the latter of those two terms.
“Dynamic pathing changes--so in the next map in this campaign, they go through an above-ground cemetery, a haunted old cemetery with crypts above ground, and it actually changes the path every time you play. And also how spawning the creatures, and the pacing of the game,” he noted.
So then, Valve’s created an A.I. that’s quickly learning how to deviously toy with and eventually murder humans? And Valve is allowing that A.I. to slowly assume control of its company? That doesn’t sound like a threat at all. We’re just going to go back to complaining about videogames now.
Holy smokes! Who saw this coming? Valve and EA have just announced the sequel to last year's multiplayer zombie-killing smash hit (and Maximum PC's Game of the Year). Left 4 Dead 2 will be released later this year on November 17th, and will feature five new campaigns that follow the story of four new survivors. PC Gamer has the full scoop in an exclusive 8-page feature in their August issue, which hits newsstands this month.
Hit the jump for more game details, Valve's full press release, and a high-res image.
Update: More game details revealed and gameplay footage!
Hate TF2’s new random drop item system? Hate TF2’s old achievement-based system a smidge less? Well then, this news should… make you smile? A little? Come on. Ah, there it is.
As with other classes, the Spy and Sniper can now acquire new items from more than just the rotting wheels of fortune that are their enemies’ perforated corpses. Yep, achievements are back, but random drops are here to stay as well. Now you just have options. Lucky you!
One key difference between these unlocks and the others, though: Spy and Sniper gear comes at 5, 11, and 17 achievements, whereas other classes’ come at 11, 17, and 22. Spy, Sniper, and hassle – one of these things is not like the other.
What drives a perfectly sane person to become a videogame company's public relations manager? I can't quite be sure, but I'm willing to bet that whatever it is, it isn't pretty. The mission that -- again -- they choose to accept seems simple enough: deliver information into the eager hands of journalists and laygamers alike, in hopes of eventually building your game's hype-tower up to stratospheric levels. What's so wrong with that? Well, nothing, actually. But all it takes is one quick slip-up at the intersection between mission intention and mission execution to turn that colossal hype tower back into splinters and dust. Those things, for the uninitiated, do not typically mix well with the copious amounts of blood, sweat, and tears that go into game development.
Thus, toward the end of a game's hype cycle, we see little fiascos like the one well-respected journalist Tom Chick encountered with Sony's latest second-party effort, inFamous. Chick had received an early copy of the game for review purposes, and chose to divide his criticism into two separate lists: one praising the game's pioneering efforts in the field of electrically charged super heroics, and the other (gently) reaming the game for pilfering from the plot of Kids WB cartoon Static Shock, among other things. No review scores were assigned to either of Chick's lists, but his somewhat brutal -- though justified -- honesty was enough to send the PR machine into a tizzy. As a result, Sony canceled an interview between Chick and the game's developers.
The stunning plot twist? Chick reported Sony's little gaffe, as journalists occasionally do, and readers weren't too pleased with the publisher's Indian-giving antics. The site's comment section rang with cries of "Gerstmann-gate," the PR explosion between website GameSpot and publisher Eidos that resulted in the firing of Jeff Gerstmann, one of GameSpot's senior review staff, for assigning Eidos title Kane and Lynch a 6 out of 10 review score.
Continue reading for some hot Spy and Mama action.
Things recently dropped by Valve’s new TF2 item system, according to players: duplicates, duplicates, and the ball. And while jumping through achievement-based hoops in order to earn new gear may not have been optimal, at least it made sense. The same couldn’t be said for random drops – at least initially. Thankfully, Valve has decided to pull back the curtain and give us the nitty-gritty on the little orange men who run its drop system. Here’s what the developer said:
"[The] new system watches the amount of time that players are playing TF2, and gives them a chance to find items at regular intervals," wrote Valve's Erik Johnson. "They aren't guaranteed to get the item at those points, but they have a pretty good chance."
How are these “regular intervals” decided upon, though? Johnson explained:
“When we were tuning this system we first looked at the average amount of time that players spend playing TF2 daily. From there, we set the goal of most players having around 20 items in their inventory after a couple of weeks of play. If you're someone who plays a lot of TF2, you're going to get items a lot faster than that.”
Also, if you thought Valve’s hot streak had finally ended with the drop system’s shaky start, fear not. As usual, Valve plans on tinkering with the thing’s inner workings until every rusty bit is replaced with solid gold. Planned improvements include item trading (bye bye duplicate items), more rare items, and some kind of way for players to “influence the system so they can work directly toward getting specific items” that’s not called achievement-grinding. Currently, Valve’s goal is to bring all of those upgrades into the mix before the next class pack.
Well, sounds like there’s no longer anything to complain about here. Back to pacing a hole in the floor and muttering about Half-Life 2: Episode 3, then.
First thing’s first: Team Fortress 2’s Sniper vs. Spy update is live. Hunting bows, new levels, and mother-themed pistols can all be yours after a bit of unlocking. And speaking of unlocking, Valve’s drastically decreased the amount of elbow grease needed to up your arsenal. That’s right – if achievements aren’t your cup of tea, you can now play the game normally and still have a shot at scoring some new gear.
"Items now drop randomly, in addition to the old (pre Spy/Sniper unlockables) achievement tied weapons," Valve’s Robin Walker told Shacknews. "We're going to release info on the new system on the blog tomorrow."
So then, about the whole urine thing. Valve recently blew the lid off the Sniper’s final item, and well, we sort of wish they hadn’t. See, it’s pee. Um, yeah.
You thought the hunting bow was old school? Now the Sniper can fling his bodily fluids about like some kind of primate. Just pop a jar of his patented “Jarate” on your foes and they’ll absorb 35% extra damage for a little while. Also, if you live by the Laws of the Wild, they’ll forever be marked as your territory. Your damp, odorous territory.
Better still, fire doesn’t stand a chance against Jarate. And for your buddies who don’t stand a chance against fire, well, being covered in the Sniper’s yellow stuff is definitely the lesser of two evils.
So, what are you waiting for? The update’s completely free, and – until Monday – the game is too. Or, if you’re ready to commit, Valve’s knocked 50% off its price. Try and then buy. Or don’t. You really can’t go wrong here.
Tread softly and carry a big stick seems to be the motif of the Spy’s latest implement, and the self-described “cannon” sure seems to fit the bill. Nope – no subtlety here. Just big, loud, accurate lead. Oh, and your mom.
“There are two sorts of men in this world: the sort with blood pouring out of a hole in their heads, and the sort holding the Ambassador [hand cannon]. It has the ammo count of a revolver and the pinpoint accuracy of a sniper rifle, even at long range. (But remember, a gun that packs this much heat needs to cool off between shots, so make every shot count.),” says the Team Fortress blog.
The gun’s barrel – in keeping with Meet the Spy’s risqué twist – initiates its potent humiliation-death combo with an engraved picture of your enemy’s mother. And if your mom doesn’t (ahem) have it going on, well, the image actually can be unseen. The death part tends to take care of that.