Blog Archives

Team Fortress 2 pits Mann against Machine on August 15th

In their seemingly unending quest to give us free Team Fortress 2 stuff (those dastards!), Valve is releasing the Mann vs Machine update on August 15th. The titular co-op mode will see Red and Blu joining forces (I know, it’s like matter and anti-matter, it just feels wrong…and potentially explosive, at that) to hold off an invasion of robotic doppelgangers. For all the flak they get about hats and Half Life, there’s no denying Valve’s been very, very good to us*.

 

* If ‘us’ = ‘PC gamers’, that is.

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Meet the Cores – Portal’s characters, introduced Team Fortress-style

Harry Callaghan started work on what he imagined would be a “very quick visual test”. I think that all of us are quite happy that it snowballed into so much more, as you can see above. What makes ‘Meet the Cores’ so impressive is the attention to detail, the effort to replicate the original voice actors’ delivery, and the fact that it wasn’t made using the recently-released Source Filmmaker. I do wish the Space Core had gotten more screen-time, but *NIT-PICKING DETECTED. OFFENDER WILL BE VAPORIZED*

Valve is selling inflatable unicorns now, is totally over that whole ‘Half-Life 3’ thing

There’s only one word for this, and it sure as hell isn’t !@#%ing Sparta.

So.

After introducing the Pyro last week, Valve clearly felt that the obvious course of action was to make…that thing up there available for purchase on the Valve Store. It’s called the Balloonicorn and those are all the words I have to say on this subject because Balloonicorn is not a word I ever thought I’d say on any subject in the realms of God and man and I think I need to go lie down now.

Lights, camera, boom, headshot – Valve releases the Source Filmmaker

If you met the Pyro yesterday and lived to tell the tale (and if you’ve got a head full of eyeballs) you might have spotted a Source Filmmaker logo at the end of the video. So yeah, that’s a thing now. You can sign up for a beta key at that link; and, if you’re lucky enough to get one, you’ll be given access to the very same software that Valve used to make ‘Meet the Pyro’ – and indeed, all their other Source-based videos. Given the particular nature of the people who get through, we could either get wondrous feats of creativity, or penis levels for everyone.

Those are Vegas odds; and the house is on the side of the penises. (there’s a sentence that can’t come up too often)

At long last, it’s time to meet the Pyro

Valve’s finally released the last episode in the ‘Meet the Team’ series, and…well, it turns out the Pyro’s even scarier than we thought.

Portal 2’s Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC Is Never Going To Give You Up

If you needed a reason to dust off your copy of Portal 2, here you go : Aperture Science is about to introduce the Perpetual Testing Initiative, as Cave Johnson announces with his customary style in the above trailer. On one level, this announcement is about the release of free DLC that will let players create and share their own Portal puzzles; and, on another level, it’s about Aperture Science taking outsourcing to new levels by conning the Multiverse (as depicted by a rather pathetic cephalopod) into doing its dirty work for it. What it’s really about, however, is the fact that once user-created puzzles start hitting the Steam Workshop, Valve/Aperture (it’s getting harder to tell them apart, isn’t it?) is going to have you testing for a long, long time.

You won’t really care too much about that, though, because Cave Johnson laughs at an octopus. No, really.

Full press release after the break.

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Behind the Scenes at Valve

I always found their bald-guy-logo rather disturbing

This is a bit of a departure from Friendly Fire’s usual fare, but I urge you to check out this blog post:

Valve: How I Got Here, What It’s Like, and What I’m Doing

It was written by Michael Abrash. I’m prepared to admit that that name didn’t mean anything to me when I started reading the article; and I’ll also admit that, when I was done, I was rather ashamed of myself.

Monsieur Abrash worked at id Software, where he and John Carmack double-handedly (technically, I suppose, that could be construed as quad-handage) programmed Quake. Then, Mike Harrington and Gabe Newell asked him on their way out of Microsoft if he wanted to be the third founder of this company they were putting together, tentatively titled ‘Valve’. He said ‘nah, not really’ and went back to walking on water or whatever he was doing; along the way, though, he managed to contribute to what would eventually become Half-Life. Eventually, he gave in to Valve’s persistent wooing and joined them sometime last year.This post talks about part of the journey that landed him at Valve, but mostly about Valve itself. It’s pretty fascinating to be given this peek behind the curtains of one of the biggest companies in the gaming industry.

Thanks for the opportunity, Mr. Abrash. I’d wish you all the best for your new career at Valve; but, based on the above paragraph, I don’t think you really need it.

PS : You had me at ‘Snow Crash’. Why, oh why haven’t more people read Neal Stephenson’s cyberpunk masterpiece?

For The Good Of All Of Us – A Look At What Portal 2 Might Have Been

Speaking at GDC 2013, Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw – Valve’s head writers – discussed the brainstorming process that resulted in Portal 2. Specifically, they spoke about all the features that never made it into the final release. Given the success and adulation enjoyed by the original Portal, creating a worthy successor was never going to be an easy task. So it proved, as their long list of discarded ideas indicates. This is why I love the Game Developer’s Conference; we get to peek at a lot of stuff that might never have seen the light of day otherwise.

Given that this is effectively a post-mortem discussion, some important plot points are discussed. If you haven’t played Portal 2 yet, I find your lack of win disturbing.

Oh, and you should probably not read on.

Links after the break.

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