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Fallout sale photo
Fallout sale

Steam has all the Fallout games on sale right now


What a (Brotherhood of) steal!
Jun 04
// Brett Makedonski
With yesterday's reveal of Fallout 4 (finally!), the nuclear apocalyptic role-playing series is the talk of the gaming world. Valve's trying to turn some of that hype into money by putting all the Fallout games on sale. ...
Steam Machines photo
Steam Machines

Steam Machines finally release soon, and pre-orders get them even earlier


Controller and Steam Link, too
Jun 04
// Brett Makedonski
In true Valve fashion, we've waited years to see if Steam Machines will ever actually see the light of day. They were revealed a long time ago, but then they just sort of never came out. Well, the first batch is definitely s...
Team Fortress 2 photo
Team Fortress 2

The Team Fortress 2 Maps Workshop Beta has arrived


We're free from the tyranny finally
Jun 03
// Joe Parlock
A few years ago, I used to read through a forum dedicated to making maps for TF2. It had people producing stuff that might be even better than the official maps from Valve. They would collaborate, share tips, and teach each o...
Buy and try photo
Buy and try (within reason)
Woah. Steam just announced it will allow for refunds on "nearly any purchase on Steam" and "for any reason," from your computer's inability to run it to you plum not enjoying it. That last one might make developers sad. There...

Mystery Trading Cards photo
Mystery Trading Cards

Steam is dropping Mystery Trading Cards right now


Gearing up for the Summer Sale, probably
Jun 01
// Darren Nakamura
I just happened to craft a badge this evening (for 0rbitalis -- review incoming) and with the dropped rewards I saw mostly the usual stuff: a background, an emoticon, and one other thing. Usually that third thing is a coupon ...
International 2015 $10M photo
International 2015 $10M

The International 2015's prize pool is now over $10 million


Two-thirds of the way there!
May 30
// Patrick Hancock
Dota 2's prize pool for the upcoming Internaltional 2015 tournament has just passed $10M. The pool is increased each time players buy a Compendium, which allows players to make predictions and bask in the glory of all of the ...

Early Access Review: Black Mesa

May 10 // Nic Rowen
Black Mesa (PC)Developer: Crowbar CollectivePublisher: Crowbar CollectiveReleased: May 5, 2015MSRP: $19.99 Now that I've had a chance to replay the original (selectively edited) Half-Life through the incredible reproduction effort of Black Mesa (which had its first part released roughly three years ago), I'm not sure that choice was so wrong. In the end I think I broke even. Half-Life was a monumental game that will always be rightfully remembered as a masterpiece for its time, but its probably not as fun as you remember it (headshots on the other hand are, and forever will be, a timeless source of joy). First thing's first, the Crowbar Collective has done an astounding job of dragging Half-Life into the modern age. This is not a mere port like Half-Life Source which used all the same assets as the original with a bit of spit and polish added in the form of a higher resolution and some dynamic lighting. Black Mesa is a remake, built from the ground up to fully realize the vision of what Half-Life could be on modern machines. More than a straight remake, the Crowbar Collective has played with the nuts and bolts of the game. Black Mesa rebuilds, trims, and expands different parts of the original for a smoother experience, while still staying true to what fundamentally made Half-Life what it was. There are new puzzles to work through, new and expanded areas to explore, and the availability of ammo and supplies has been bumped and nudged by a team that has spent ages agonizing over the pacing of the game. Action scenes are frantic and aggressive, with plenty of ammo doled out to deal with the additional enemies and larger set-pieces provided by Black Mesa. But when the action slows down and Gordon is guided towards evasion and caution, supplies dip to an almost survival horror level of scarcity. The push and pull of tension and action, going from a rat in the walls to a one-man army was one of the most intriguing things about Half-Life, and Black Mesa nails it better than the original. Some areas like the On A Rail sequence that infamously overstayed its welcome in the original, benefit from editing. Sometimes more isn't always better and Black Mesa makes some smart cuts getting rid of the fluffier and more frustrating aspects of the original. All of the edits are an improvement to the game. In fact, I'd say they could have probably brandished the razor around a bit more. Maybe we were just more tolerant of rampant amounts of bullshit back in 1998. Or, I suspect our memories of Half-Life benefit from a healthy helping of nostalgia and a lofty appreciation for everything that game did for modern game design. Half-Life basically wrote the book on immersive storytelling, first person exploration and strategically minded A.I for enemies, it had to be fun, right? Kind of? There are great times to be had in Black Mesa. When the game works, you can easily tell why Half-Life is so highly regarded as a classic. But then there is a looming dark side; a great number of hours when the game stubbornly refuses to be fun. The overly long underwater sequences that have you searching about in the darkness for some nook or cranny you missed as the last of your oxygen bubbles out of your lungs. The obnoxious clunkiness of trying to just MOVE around on physics enabled debris, let alone when the game demands you try to make a specific jump or escape from a screen rattling auto-turret under those conditions. The arbitrary insta-kill traps and monsters that force you back into loading screens and more than a couple “gotcha” moments that you couldn't hope to avoid without active precognitive abilities. Even with careful editing and a mind towards evening out the pace of the original, Black Mesa still traffics in an almost unconscionable amount of backtracking and finagling. There were several sequences where the solution to the predicament I was in was so awkward and stilted that I was sure I was doing it wrong. Of particular disdain was a protracted sequence set in a waste disposal facility that merged all the “joys” of water exploration, insta-death traps, pinpoint jumping between moving conveyor belts and confusing map design into a single ultra dense black-hole of anti-fun so terribly dark and spirit crushing that I'm still not sure I fully escaped from it. Maybe I'm being tough on it, but I remember Half-Life being smarter. I remember liking its world and characters better. Maybe it's age or maybe games have just moved on, but this time around I was more exasperated than amused by the shenanigans of the Lambda research team. The game has one joke -- you wander up to some poindexter in a lab coat, he says something silly/smug/abrasive, then immediately runs headlong into bullets/fire/devouring jaws (whatever option would make what he said seem more ironic). I like to imagine Freeman giving the leftover blood smear a knowing smirk each time. Granted, it's a funny goof the first two or three times it comes up, but when you're nine hours deep into the game and Professor Egghead is still predictably blundering into the crossfire, the dismemberment gets a little rote. I think its interesting that almost all of my criticism for Black Mesa is directly related to content from the original Half-Life. Every other effort is fantastic. This game looks great, especially considering its roots as a community driven mod. The soundtrack of original compositions is fucking banging. Every edit and change they made to the game was for the better. It almost makes me wish Black Mesa wasn't a remake-with-cuts of Half-Life. I wonder if the team would have been better served making their own thing, or maybe a “inspired by the events of Half-Life” complete re-imagining of the original game. The way I see it, there are two potential audiences for Black Mesa. There are the players who missed the original in its heyday because they were too young, or didn't have a PC, or thought Freeman's goatee on the box art made him look like a barista stooge, but love Valve's other games and want to check out the legendary classic that started it all. Then, you also have the true-blue fans of the original, the generation that cut their teeth on Half-Life and remember it as a wonderful and mind expanding experience who would love to recapture the joy of those heady days. I'm in the slightly uncomfortable position of telling both of those camps that they can probably take a pass on Black Mesa, even though I truly respect the work that the Crowbar Collective team has done with it. If you want to play a great Half-Life game that has aged fairly well, Half-Life 2 and its accompanying chapters are fantastic and Valve practically gives them out every Steam sale. Those games have all the best parts of the original Half-Life, while cutting out most of the chaff that bogs it down. If you didn't play Half-Life back in the day, I can't really imagine someone enjoying it as a game. Maybe as an academic curiosity, but not as a play experience. If you absolutely loved the original, you may very well find something worthwhile in Black Mesa. It really is the singular best way to play Half-Life. That said, you could also find something you don't like. A terrible truth, an awful secret, the knowledge that one of your favorite games is actually kind of a pain in the ass to play. It might be best to leave those pleasant memories as they are. There is still more Black Mesa to come; the game is in early access and right now the story concludes on a cliffhanger right before the Xen levels, where Freeman is thrust into an alien world of annoying platform jumping and floating alien bastards. The Crowbar Collective is actively working on that final chapter and plans to include it in the full release. Considering that even the most stalwart fans of the original generally concede that “the game was perfect (except for the Xen levels)” I don't think those last levels will really swing my personal opinion on the game. I will say this though, I can't wait for whatever the Crowbar Collective does next.
Black Mesa photo
Half as good as you remember
Half-Life was like a magic trick. It was a game you could show to people who weren't gamers and they'd get into it, a gateway drug. A real game (not some glorified puzzle book like Myst) that had the cinematic flair and prese...

Greenlight photo
Greenlight

Homophobic and transphobic game pulled from Greenlight


No more 'Kill The Faggot'
May 06
// Laura Kate Dale
Congratulations, we have a new winner for most offensive game to appear on Steam Greenlight! Skaldic Games, run by christian game developer Randall Herman, yesterday put a game up on Steam Greenlight called Kill The Faggot. I...
Steam photo
Steam

Steam screenshot bug finally fixed after four-year wait


Say goodbye to double screenshots
May 06
// Laura Kate Dale
Sometimes bugs in software are found and removed faster than anybody really realises they ever existed. Other bugs users resign themselves to never seeing fixed, working around them until the end of time. On very rare occasio...
HL2: Ep 2 speedrun photo
HL2: Ep 2 speedrun

Nauseating Half-Life 2: Episode 2 world record speedrun


Protip: Bring a bucket
May 05
// Jed Whitaker
Watch as the SourceRuns team impressively moonwalks its way through a majority of Half-Life 2: Episode 2. This is a segmented speedrun, meaning it is recorded in several takes and put together, as well as assisted with custo...
Black Mesa Early Access photo
Black Mesa Early Access

Half-Life remake Black Mesa now on Steam Early Access


Finally, a way to pay for a mod
May 05
// Patrick Hancock
Black Mesa, the loving recreation of the original Half-Life, has just entered Steam's Early Access program with a price point of $19.99. There had been a countdown on the website leading up to today, and many speculated that ...
Portal Pinball photo
Portal Pinball

That Valve/Zen Studios collaboration is Portal Pinball


Now you're plinking with portals
May 05
// Darren Nakamura
The teaser is less than a week old, and now we have some more details on the collaboration between Zen Studios (best known for its pinball games) and Valve (best known for not developing Half-Life 3). It's not the excellent p...
id Software photo
id Software

id Software wanted to pay for your mods in 1995


But it didn't
May 05
// Vikki Blake
You might think that Valve's doomed mod payment program was the first of its kind, but it turns out that id Software co-founder John Romero wanted to reward Quake modders twenty years ago. "I've always believed that mod maker...
Valve photo
Valve

Steam currency issue made Indonesians rich


What do you do with 13,000x in your wallet?
May 04
// Laura Kate Dale
What would you do if you woke up this morning to find your Steam wallet was suddenly worth 13,000 times it's normal value? This may seem like a silly question, but Steam users in Indonesia found themselves in this very situat...
Dota 2 Compendium 2015 photo
Dota 2 Compendium 2015

New Dota 2 Compendium revealed, up to $15M in stretch goals


Hot off a game-changing patch
May 01
// Patrick Hancock
The newest Dota 2 Interactive Compendium has been revealed for this year's upcoming International tournament. Just as in past years, 25% of each Compendium purchase goes towards the prize pool and stretch goals. This yea...
Magnet gun photo
Magnet gun

A cancelled Half-Life episode included a magnet gun


Polarizing
Apr 30
// Brett Makedonski
Everyone who yearns for more Half-Life content might take solace (or find frustration) in the fact that more has been created. However, it's also been scrapped. And, at least some of it had the intent of introducing a ne...
Team Fortress 2 photo
Team Fortress 2

Who wants matchmaking in Team Fortress 2? It's coming!


Pro tip: EVERYONE
Apr 30
// Vikki Blake
Brace yourself: Matchmaking, is -- finally -- coming to Team Fortress 2. After submitting a list of feature requests and bugs to the TF2 development team, a group of fans from TeamFortress.tv were invited to Valve to dis...
Valve/Zen photo
Valve/Zen

Zen Studios is teasing some sort of Valve crossover


It's pinball-related, to be sure
Apr 29
// Brett Makedonski
You might know Zen Studios as "The Pinball Guys." The Hungary-based developer has more games under its belt, but in recent years, it's most well-known ventures have included flippers, steel balls, and franchises from elsewher...
Paid Skyrim mods are over photo
'...it's clear we didn't understand exactly what we were doing'
Earlier today, Bethesda tried to justify its decision to let people charge money for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim mods on Steam, but it was just the latest in a string of failed attempts at damage control. Now there's word fro...

Gabe Newell AMA photo
Gabe Newell AMA

Gabe Newell defends paid mods against the fury of an angry Internet


Brace yourselves, the downvotes are coming
Apr 25
// Alissa McAloon
The PC gaming community has been up in arms ever since Valve announced a few days ago that the Skyrim Steam Workshop would start allowing modders to charge money for previously free user-created mods. To the surprise of absol...
HTC Vive photo
HTC Vive

Devs can put their eyeballs inside the HTC Vive for free


Did no one see Sword Art Online? This won't end well
Apr 23
// Joe Parlock
Life is cruel sometimes. I’m almost blind in one eye and can’t see in 3D, so most 3D and virtual reality headsets don’t actually work for me. I’ve tried the Oculus Rift, and it was just like being sat ...
Dota 2 mod photo
Dota 2 mod

Experimental mod envisions Dota 2 as a third-person shooter


Built in a cave with a box of scraps
Apr 20
// Jordan Devore
Not that I've been counting, but I'm sure I've spent more time with Awesomenauts and SMITE than I have with traditional multiplayer online battle arenas like League of Legends and Dota 2 . Hey, I like what I like! I als...
Mortal Kombat X photo
Mortal Kombat X

Are klassik fatalities koming to Mortal Kombat X?


Steam certainly seems to think so
Apr 20
// Laura Kate Dale
Mortal Kombat X is a game largely about violently ripping people limb from limb. There's so many ways to viciously eviscerate your enemies that the average player will have their blood-lust satiated for weeks. But what if you...
Crawl photo
Crawl

Gabe Newell punches his way into indie game


Newell is an ultra powerful boss
Apr 13
// Laura Kate Dale
News revealed on April Fools is always difficult to know how to treat. Do you waste time verifying it? Do you assume everything's a hoax regardless of proof? Do you just wait it out and see if the news still has updates in th...
Half-Life 2 mod photo
Half-Life 2 mod

Half-Life 2: Update looks like a real good reason to revisit City 17


But not Ravenholm... never Ravenholm
Mar 26
// Jordan Devore
For three years, Filip Victor has been working on Half-Life 2: Update, a community-made standalone version of Half-Life 2 that seeks to "fix up, polish, and visually enhance [the game] without ever changing the 2004 original'...
Three-hour Dota match photo
Three-hour Dota match

Record breaking competitive Dota 2 match lasts over 3 hours


The last Hobbit movie was shorter (and less entertaining)
Mar 22
// Nic Rowen
Dota matches have a reputation for becoming grindy slogs, but I'm pretty sure they aren't supposed to resemble the intractable grind of WWI trench warfare. On Friday a qualifying match between competitive teams Cloud9 and SFZ...
Team Fortress 2 photo
Team Fortress 2

Dance the night away with custom taunts in TF2


Do the hustle
Mar 13
// Jordan Devore
Are you a taunter? I'm not. Okay, well, I try not to be. But then developers go and design achievements around taunting X amount of times, and it'd be rude not to oblige them probably. Or there's some jerk in Awesomenauts who...
Steam Controller photo
Steam Controller

Steam Controller and FPS: PAX East 2015 impressions


'A little rumbly'
Mar 10
// Jed Whitaker
One of what was seemingly the better-kept secrets at PAX East 2015, the Steam Controller, was available for hands on at the Alienware booth connected to the company's Steam Machines. I was able to test the previous iteration...

Skyworld takes unique advantage of Valve's new virtual reality tech

Mar 06 // Alessandro Fillari
For our demo, the developers led me into a closed-off room which housed Valve's virtual reality hardware. Around the room were two cameras that tracked movement and set the boundaries of the VR environment by scanning the dimensions of the room. They then handed me the headset, which still looked as if it was in the prototype phase. Wires to the headset were numerous, which required a belt around my waist to hold all of them down. Honestly, it felt like I was wearing something from '90s cyberpunk like Ghost in the Shell or Johnny Mnemonic. It was weighty, but had a number of devices working at once. I actually almost tripped over one of the wires before our demo even started. But any apprehension I had for the device soon faded once I tried out the interface and witnessed it in action. With the headset on, I was in a home menu showing a number of games and applications. The controllers they gave me, which were also connected with wires, were two wand-like devices that were somewhat like a mix between the Sony Move and Wii Remote. Similar to the headset, they were in early form. Using trackpads on the controllers allowed me to cycle through options. And just for fun, pressing down the trackpad caused a balloon to inflate from the controller in the digital space, which was amusing. It felt intuitive, and surprisingly accurate. I could look around to see the menu system with its grey, almost minimalistic background, but the Valve engineer instructed me to look towards the floor. On the floor was a box, which represented the center of the space. Once I started walking forward outside the box, I made it a few steps before a grid popped up in front of me. This grid represented the physical wall that I was about to walk into, which the camera picked up and visualized within the VR space. It was pretty cool stuff, and I felt that I could've spent plenty of time exploring the home menu, but of course, they had a game to show. [embed]288675:57632:0[/embed] Last year, the developers of World of Diving showed off an impressive demonstration for their underwater-exploration sim. The use of the Oculus Rift was well designed and featured impressive depth and range. With the success and buzz they generated with that title, they attracted the attention of Valve, leading to a partnership. But the new VR technology they were presented meant having to design something a bit different. "When they asked to work together with us to make a demo for the GDC announcement, the first thing that came to mind was that we should do something like World of Diving," said creative director Richard Stitselaar. "But that title was designed around the first Oculus, and then the DK2 came along, we had to ramp it up to seventy-five frames per second, then Valve came along and said 'guys, it needs 90 frames per second.' So we had to do a lot of optimization on the game, and we figured we should use our knowledge with VR and apply it to a new game instead." Skyworld is totally different from World of Diving. Set on a floating island that houses a small civilization, you play as an omnipotent ruler that must wage war on the opposing side. As a quasi tabletop turn-based strategy title, players use both Steam controllers as wands in game to conjure up creatures and interact with the world. Over time, you'll build your defenses and expand your resources, which will allow you to send infantry and even dragons to attack your enemies. With the left controller, I was able to pull up a magic book, which housed unit info and spells to cast. Using the right controller allowed me to interact with the elements on the table. Whether picking up units to reposition them or interacting with blacksmiths or dragons, each controller had its own separate uses that complemented the other. "First we had this interaction model where you would look at something as this dot in the middle and then select it," said Stitselaar. "It feels natural to have something in your hand that could enhance the world itself." When you think of VR, you're probably thinking of something that's a bit action-y or fast-paced, and likely not a turn-based strategy title. But Skyworld definitely makes great use of the technology. I was able to view all aspects of the environment with clarity, as zooming simply meant stepping closer. Of course, I had to let go of some very basic certainties when playing with the demo. For instance, we all know that if there's an object in front of you, then you'll likely have to move if you want to get around it. I spent much of the demo walking around the 'table,' never thinking to actually walk up to whatever object I wanted. Eventually, the engineers from Valve and Vertigo Games instructed me that it was okay to walk through the table -- it wasn't real. After attacking enemy installations and moving my infantry around, my time with the demo ended. It was fairly brief, and I felt I only scratched the surface of what I could do. Valve's technology was easily the most impressive use of virtual reality I've seen in a long time, though. Moreover, Vertigo Games' work impressed. I was pleasantly surprised to experience a title that used VR in an original way. While the technology has a ways to go before it will get in the hands of consumers, I'm excited about what the future of VR holds.
Valve VR photo
Vertigo Games talks the future of VR
We got a big shock at the beginning of the week when Valve announced its partnership with HTC to produce a new virtual reality headset. We all knew the company had ambitions to enter the console market with Steam Machines, bu...

Steam hardware photo
Steam hardware

Steam now lists Steam Machines and other hardware


These things sure are pricey
Mar 05
// Jordan Devore
In its push to expand the "Steam universe," Valve has added store listings for Steam Machines as well as the finalized Steam Controller and also Steam Link, a PC-to-TV streaming device. All of this stuff will become available...

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