30 Helens agree: Nicolas Cage makes everything better. Including video games.
Case in point, a mod that Kotaku just picked up on, which brings the star of Raising Arizona, Face/Off, Wicker Man, and both Ghost Rider flicks, among other cinematic masterpieces, in the form of a flashlight in "Left 4 Dead 2."
Valve is somewhat of an enigma. Everyone is well aware of how it got so big, thanks to milestone releases like "Half-Life" and "Portal," as well maintaining the most popular digital distribution pipeline going, in effect shaping the very face of PC gaming. Yet the company as a whole remains a mystery; many have long wondered what the heck goes on behind the scenes. And not just those who have long grown tired of the wait for Half-Life 2: Episode Three.
Still, more than a few who wish to be involved in the industry, perhaps as an artist, programmer, or designer, would love the chance to work at a company that has such a powerful and well respected entity. The fact that it largely operates with a “flat structure” in which everyone is seemingly the boss is equally enticing. Read More...
You know it’s a treat when you get to hear the somewhat reclusive Gabe Newell talk two days in a row, and while he was J.J. Abrams-less for his second D.I.C.E. keynote, Newell decided not to focus on talking about sales-oriented things, or announcing new products (damn!). Instead, he talked about two tenets:
• The PC ecosystem is going to expand into the living room. Obviously this is what Valve has been moving towards with their Steam Box system that will attach a gaming PC to your television.
• He thinks there is going to be a fairly significant sea change in what we think a game is. This will expand throughout the video game ecosystem, and will wind up in your living room, and will incorporate people who don’t tend to think of themselves as “gamers.”
“A lot of people have an outdated notion about what is possible with a PC,” Newell said about bringing computing power into the living room. With the movement towards mobility, PC manufacturers have gone way beyond what would be required for a similar experience in the living room, where you don’t have to worry about things like thermal envelopes and power consumption.
Some issues are left to be filled, with audio synchronization and controller input, but he thinks that the price points for these solutions will be far below what is typically involved in a console gaming setup. But it’s not open transition to get in there. “It’s actually scary to think what Apple is going to do,” going on to explain that he thinks that Apple has a more natural progression into the living room, which is a large threat to moving PC gaming into the same space.
What he thinks will lend credibility to the experience itself is the fact that PC gaming systems are easily adaptable, and that the sheer horsepower you can get out of them will dwarf what you can get out of a console. This is already the case, obviously, with PC gaming, but for the millions of potential future consumers, it’s a fact that needs to be illustrated and grasped. Read More...
By Kevin Kelly
D.I.C.E. 2013 kicked off with a conversation with J.J. Abrams and Gabe Newell, who Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences President Martin Rae called, “Two incredibly accomplished storytellers who have changed the world of film, television and games.” Abrams started the ball rolling by noting that video games have gone from the days of Pong to today, which has been like going from cave drawings to the Renassaince. Newell interrupted Abrams to dispel the notion that games have been becoming more like the movies by showing a clip from Cloverfield.
“That was pretty good,” quipped Abrams. But Newell came back by remarking “As a gamer, I’m saying ‘Put the f**king camera down and run!’” Abrams then blasted back with a Half-Life 2 clip, where Freeman is playing around with the teleporter, while important story is happening behind him while he goofs off and isn’t driven forward. “It can be fun to do stuff like this, but it doesn’t really drive a story,” said Abrams.
Abrams pointed out that we see plenty of examples of idiots in movies, like the people who go outside in a Friday the 13th movie, when they know something bad is going to happen. He illustrated another point with another Half-Life clip, where a lot of exposition happens via talking heads. He mentioned that the characters don’t behave or emote like a real person would. Newell responded by saying that it’s more about the story for the gamer, such as when you’re playing Left 4 Dead, it’s not about Coach or Bill, it’s about you and me. Read More...
By Joseph Leray
Did you know that, before being gobbled up by ZeniMax, Arkane Studios (of "Dishonored" fame) were working on a standalone Half-Life 2 episode called “Return to Ravenholm”? Me neither.
This is apparently old hat within the "Half-Life" community, but fan site ValveTime dug up some concept art and a few screenshots of the canceled, giving fans their first real look at the project.
The action in these screens mostly takes place indoors, which is strange: I remember a large, outdoor level, with gasoline traps in the town square and a final standoff on the rooftops of Ravenholm. In any case, ValveTime points out that the heads-up display includes an “Absorption” stat, without any real indication of what it might do or how it might change the core Half-Life 2 gameplay. Read More...
Members of SteamRep -- "a non-profit site that partners with community administrators to improve the safety of game-related trading" -- have uncovered what they believe to be organized fraud in "Team Fortress 2", Valve Software's massively popular, team-based FPS.
On August 15 (that’s tomorrow!), Valve will be introducing a new cooperative mode to Team Fortress 2: Mann vs. Machine, a Horde variant that pits six players against waves of robotic doppelgangers intent on bombing Mann Co. facilities to smithereens.
Dubbed the Gray Horde, the robot menace mostly consists of regular robot foot soldiers that carry regular weaponry dragging around huge bombs designed to level munitions warehouses. Your job is pretty straightforward, according to Valve’s TF2 blog: “It’s up to you to stop them. And it’s up to a small cadre of Special Robots to stop you from stopping the regular robots.”
By and large, Mann vs. Machine doesn’t seem to stray too far from the Horde mechanics popularized by games like Gears of War 2: players earn cash by destroying robots, which can be used to upgrade weapons and equipment between rounds. Survive every round for even more loot.
For a somewhat absurdist account of Mann Co.’s backstory, Valve has helpfully provided some comic strips to get you squared away. And if you simply cannot wait another 24 hours to figure what our merry mercenaries are up against, here’s a rundown of the rather prosaically named Special Robots.
It’s worth noting that this marks the first time Valve has had to write enemy AI for a Team Fortress game. More importantly, there may be some sweet metallic hats in the offering.
Valve founder Gabe Newell presented a very different model for how the gaming industry should work during his keynote at the DICE Summit this evening, one that would radically change the lives of gamers. Here are the key points: Read More...
As part of his just-concluded keynote at theDICE Summithere on the outskirts of Las Vegas, Valve founder Gabe Newell said that the team behind the popular animated shorts for "Team Fortress 2" is prepping comics. This, he said, is part of Valve's transition from being a "video game company" to an "entertainment company." More on that in my next post, which I'll be filing shortly.