Valve’s top bossman Gabe Newell hasn’t forgotten about the software side of his empire, even though he just dropped confirmation of a living room, Linux-powered Steam Box. Steam will continue to evolve, he tells The Verge at CES, and in the future it may resemble a user-generated profile hub, where users can create their own stores and aggregate games within those markets.
"Our view has always been that we should build tools for customers and tools for partners," Newell says. "An editorial filter is fine, but there should be a bunch of editorial filters. The backend services should be network APIs that anybody can use. On the consumer side, anybody should be able to put up a store that hooks into those services.
"Some people will create team stores, some people will create Sony stores, some people will create stores with only games that they think meet their quality bar. Somebody is going to create a store that says ‘these are the worst games on Steam.’ So that’s an example of where our thinking is leading us right now."
Newell’s love affair with user generated content can be seen in its infancy with Greenlight, which allows users to choose the games that make it to Steam. The idea, however, stems from a more established aspect of Steam – the Workshop.
"So now we’re in this strange world where we have people who are using the Steam Workshop who are making $500,000 per year building items for other customers," Newell says. "In other words, there’s this notion that user-generated content has to be an important part of our thinking. We know of other game developers making more money building content for the workshop than what they get in their day job.
"One of the things we found is that this notion of a workshop needs to span multiple games. If we’re connecting Skyrim and other games… it’s like this notion that there’s just a game seems to be going away; games are starting to look like an instance of some larger experience."
Valve’s rumored "Steam Box," a compact PC designed to easily connect to televisions and leverage Steam’s Big Picture Mode, will debut this year according to a report from German site Golem.de. Furthermore, the Steam Box will supposedly run on Linux. That wouldn’t be too surprising given Valve head Gabe Newell’s distaste for Windows 8 and the company’s recent Linux push. The 2013 release also gels with Newell’s recent comments predicting a spate of TV- and Steam-friendly hardware launching in 2013 from various companies, including Valve.
The news was supposedly confirmed by Valve electrical engineer Ben Krasnow during the EHSM conference in Berlin last month. Krasnow, incidentally, was there to show off his homemade X-ray scanner. Given that his personal projects also include, among other things, a DIY rocket engine, we’d say he’s probably qualified to help build a little computer.
Valve has plenty of opportunities to announce the hardware this year, including GDC in March, E3 in June, Gamescom in August, or even CES, which takes place this week. For what it’s worth, Valve chose to announce Big Picture Mode at GDC 2011. Of course, given this is Valve we’re talking about, the company could just hold an event of its own.
Hammerpoint Interactive’s The War Z has been removed from Steam amid allegations of false advertising from its community, which claims that the developer knowingly listed inaccurate information on The War Z‘s Steam profile.
Originally, the game’s profile touted multiple areas ranging in size from 100 to 400 kilometers and servers capable of handling up to 100 players, according to this screenshot obtained by Gamespy. The profile also stated that The War Z was a "Single Purchase, Downloadable Client with the ability to play the full game without subscriptions or requiring in-game transactions," and failed to mention that this is a "Foundation Release," meaning that the game is still under development, with some areas even marked with alpha testing information.
In actuality, the game only has one zone, and servers were initially capped at a maximum of 50 players, though that issue at least appears to have been corrected. Moreover, The War Z features a microtransactional-based in-game economy, somewhat contradicting its claim of being a "single purchase" game. The profile has since been rejiggered and no longer makes mention of the multiple zones, nor does it make any mention of in-game transactions. It does, however, still neglect information about the game’s somewhat early developmental stage.
With the recent launch of Steam Big Picture, it hasn’t taken long for the words "Steam Box" to enter the collective gaming community’s brain space. Valve boss Gabe Newell reignited that discussion when speaking on the red carpet at last night’s Video Game Awards ceremony about the company’s plans to enter the hardware business.
Newell told Kotaku that he sees multiple companies entering the hardware space, and that "most customers and most developers are gonna find that [the PC is] a better environment for them." His reasoning is that consumers "won’t have to split the world into thinking about ‘why are my friends in the living room, why are my video sources in the living room different from everyone else?’ So in a sense we hopefully are gonna unify those environments."
The Valve boss suggested that companies would launch PC bundles in 2013 designed to run Steam in the living room and compete with next gen consoles. Newell added that Valve is one of those companies, and its efforts may not be as open-source as some might expect:
"Well certainly our hardware will be a very controlled environment. If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC. For people who want a more turnkey solution, that’s what some people are really gonna want for their living room. The nice thing about a PC is a lot of different people can try out different solutions, and customers can find the ones that work best for them."
Jordan Mechner’s rhythmic Karateka remake is out on PC today, available through Steam for ten percent off its normal $10 price. The price will flip-kick back up after a week. It’s still listed only as "coming soon" to PSN and iOS.
Coinciding with the release of Karateka on a new platform, creator Jordan Mechner has released an ebook about the development process of the original Apple 2 Karateka. The making of Karateka: Journals 1982-1985 collects Mechner’s private journal entries about the time spent in college creating the martial arts game. It’s on Amazon digitally today, and Mechner plans to release it in print later. Mechner has already released a journal book about Prince of Persia.
Update: Karateka is now available on Steam.
Team Fortress 2‘s fourth-annual "Scream Fortress" festivities have begun, bringing with them the usual blend of spooky items and ghastly baddies. This year’s event, which runs until November 8, is also accompanied by a now-customary comic book, which explains how such terrifying circumstances came to be.
Said circumstances include haunted King of the Hill matches, during which players must battle the powerful ghost/wizard Merasmus and his book of bomb magic, the Bombinomicon. Additionally, control points have been booby trapped and now trigger the "Wheel of Fate" with each change in power, which has as much potential to harm as it does to help.
Item-wise, the ghoulish update adds magic spells in the form of potion bottles that can be applied to other inventory items; changing their colors, summoning ghosts or performing any number of other possible magical happenings. "One of the spells might even give you Glenn Danzig’s eldritch phone number," Valve’s announcement reads.
Mann vs Machine isn’t left out of the fun either, gaining a brand-new mission called "Wave 666," which replaces the usual robotic enemies with those of an undead variety.
Joystiq got to see MechWarrior Online in its closed beta at PAX Prime a few months ago, and the game was coming along nicely: a little light on the fast-paced shooter action and heavy on the MechWarrior-based customization options and battle mechanics. Infinite Game Publishing and Piranha Games have announced that MWO is headed into an open beta next week.
Players interested in playing can sign up on the MechWarrior Online website to reserve a name right now, and anyone looking to spend a little money on the free-to-play shooter (based, of course, on the tabletop strategy game) can join the Founders’ Program, which offers various tiers of premium rewards. The Founders’ Program will finish up on October 14, with the open beta following soon after.
Developer The Creative Assembly has launched the ‘Assembly Kit’ for Total War: Shogun 2, arming fans with the weaponry it needs to modify the strategy game. Included in the release is an update to the existing Battle Map Editor, which enables Steam Workshop integration.
With the Assembly Kit – freely available to download from the Tools section of Steam for Shogun 2 owners – players can edit any database values in the game, including game logic, unit values and more as well as the ability to create, edit and render in-game assets. Complete details can be found after the break.
To help kickstart content (which includes the ability to script single-player battles) The Creative Assembly released a "sample historical battle" on Shogun 2‘s Steam Workshop page to give modders a "convenient starting point."
To celebrate its release, the Total War franchise will be on sale through October 1, with rotating deals each day on Stea
Left 4 Dead 2 will receive Steam Workshop support starting in the middle of October, according to a recent developer blog. The system will allow players to rate and install community-created add-ons, including new maps, weapons, items and mutations thanks to an "expanded scripting tool."
Steam Workshop will roll out for PC, Mac and Linux versions of Left 4 Dead 2 next month, though no specific release schedule has been announced yet by Valve.
War may never change, but it certainly has gotten more expensive. The frugal warmonger must secure funds for a conflict as early as possible, and THQ is hoping to capitalize on this need with pre-order incentives for Company of Heroes 2.
Plunking down money right now will grant you German Rotbraun and Soviet Leningrad skins for medium-weight vehicles. Pre-ordering through Steam will enlist you in the Steam Pre-Purchase Tiered Reward Program, which grants players goods in Team Fortress 2 and Relic Entertainment’s Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 2. A pre-order through Origin tosses in the Soviet Bryansk Front vehicle skin for heavy vehciles, while pre-ordering directly through THQ awards a free Command Pass that unlocks bonus multiplayer maps and entrance into "exclusive member’s only events." The Command Pass will also be available for purchase following launch.
A $99 Digital Collector’s edition is aimed at those who find their war coffers are overflowing, granting access to the first three single-player content packs post-launch, some additional vehicle skins, and a veteran badge displayed next to your name. Plus, this edition will pack in the original Company of Heroes and its two expansion packs.