Last week I had the extreme pleasure of going to downtown Bellevue and visiting the headquarters of Valve Software. While it is relatively easy to take a tour of Valve (you can contact them and arrange for a tour Tuesday or Thursday every week), this was something a little bit different. I am part of an online gaming community and, as luck would have it, one of our members is employed there and was able to arrange a ‘special’ visit. Our community came out in massive numbers (40+ of us total) and jumped at the chance to explore a company we adore at a level deeper than just playing the various games they produce or complaining on the Steam forums.
Black Mesa has won and broken our hearts on many occasions for the last 8 years. After all this time the free-to-play mod is finally available (albeit not entirely complete). Half-Life fan(atics)s may not find any number threes with this mod, but they may just find one more thing to tide them over while Valve continues to play with Steam enhancements and more TF2 add-ons.
Steam Greenlight is the latest addition to the Steam platform that lets users up-vote games they think they’ll be willing to pay for. Over the short course of time that Greenlight has been available, there have been many ripoffs, spoofs and just plain nonsense showing up. Half-Life 3? Really?
In an effort to curb the onslaught of rubbish, Steam has implemented a new rule that requires any submitters to make a one-time donation of $100 to the Penny-Arcade-created charity Child’s Play. This puts Greenlight right alongside other one-time fee distribution models like the App Store and Xbox Live Indie Games. What does this mean for aspiring indie developers? Probably time to scrounge up some spare change.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (or CS:GO) from Valve will be releasing tomorrow to many fans clamoring for another game in the hit series. Originally a mod for the first Half-Life game, its been nothing short of amazing to watch the franchise survive for as long as it has and stay relatively unchanged. Valve has released a new trailer for the game as shown below and even though there’s no croutch-aiming it still captures quite a few of the game’s staples like bomb defusal, flash grenades and AWP sniping.
It also has that trademark Valve animation quality to it, with a little bit of questionable film grain. Its easy to spot when something it made with the Source engine since everyone’s movements have this sort of clunky fluidity to them, its hard to put into words.
Word on the street this week is that the Steam Summer Sales will be upon us at any moment. I’m not really holding my breathe or anything, but I have to admit that the summer sales have easily been some of the best ones I’ve seen. They also usually come just at the right time, right when the 4th is upon us Americans and freetime is more abundant with holidays.
What’s more foreboding is how many games are starting to build up in my library on Steam. A few are even untouched (although most of those are extras from indie bundles). Will the forthcoming Steam be a complete wash for me? We’ll see.
Some games I’m going to be looking for though:
- Max Payne 3
- Civ 5: Gods & Kings
- Sins of a Solar Empire: Retribution
- Deathspank, Deathspank 2 and The Baconing (never played any of them)
- Another sweet Borderlands deal
- Maybe EVE? We’ll see, I’ve been pretty good about staying away from it up to this point.
Let us know if you’re going to be grabbing anything and what deals look good to you! (When the sale actually begins that is)
And just as a heads-up, Amazon is hosting a bit of a competitive sale on their site as well.
One last thing (I’m updating this after-the-fact, sorry for lack of continuity), people are getting so antsy they are starting to make terrorist threats to Gabe Newell, tongue-in-cheek of course.
There is no universal law that there must be only a few console manufactures, that we must always have a Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft console. Things change, drastically. It used to be Nintendo, SEGA and Sony and long before that it was Coleco and Atari. Perhaps we’re long overdue for a new contender in the market.
It looks like that’s where Valve may step in.
Pictured above is an astonishingly accurate depiction of the entire Half-Life game, Xen levels and all. Josh Millard over at his blog Mapstalgia does an excellent job of recreating the maps of all sorts of video games new and old. Its a fun way to remember some of the better games of yore. If there were a map I think I could draw back from memory it’d likely be GTA3, but it helped that the world wasn’t particularly huge either. Hit the jump for a few of Millard’s highlights!
Update: Millard informed me that not all of the drawings on his site are by him, half of them are actually user submission, so if you have your own stuff you should sent them on his way!
In 2008 Jonathan Blow’s Braid released to critical fanfare and shattered expectations of what video games could do with narrative. Each part of the game represented a piece of the story and theme, from the way Tim controlled time, to the written snippets of story, to the music and artwork that permeated the landscape. It was quite the spectacle and after the spectacular ending I was convinced that this would propel video games to the next level of narrative art-form.
This one may take a little convincing.
2011 has been a great year of sequels and sequels of sequels. When the end of the year nears, all of the major publications as well as every person who likes to play numerous video games will loudly proclaim what they think their “Game of the Year” was. The general consensus seems to be that with its huge scope, high production values and nearly limitless role-playing potential, Skyrim takes the award.
Many people, however, disagree. Why? I’m not really sure, but I suspect its what I like to call the hipster mentality.