Tag Archives: valve

Steam – The biggest issue facing the new beta and a potential solution

For those unaware, the Steam next major update has recently entered a beta state, giving eager users a much anticipated glimpse of the long overdue upcoming user library overhaul.

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The new library hub

Although this new addition can be cynically attributed to Valve’s new attempts to rapidly modernise Steam‘s features in the wake of the rising popularity of the Epic Games Launcher – perhaps the only game launcher with the financial backing to topple Valve’s market monopoly – it is nevertheless certainly nice to see Steam with a long overdue fresh coat of paint.

 

Boasting a sleek design, smooth animations and one-of-a-kind automated library management features users have so far been delighted with the new update. If you fancy a guide on how to acquire the new update, simply click here!

Although the update has been applauded by many, there is still one major problem – one that proves to be quite the sticking point for users less than keen to update.

The issue stems from Valve’s change to a new way of presenting game: the new vertical box art. Despite conjuring up some warm nostalgic memories in those old enough to remember browsing rental games in Blockbuster, and being overall more visually appealing, it requires quite a bit of developer input to pull off.

Developers have been encouraged to upload vertical box art and banner images with their games’ media assets for some time now a problem arises when developers won’t. Despite the best efforts of Steam‘s algorithm to generate box-art for every game, using pre-existing banner images, the results are hardly amazing and really detract from the otherwise flawless presentation.

It’s fair enough to understand that with old games, tiny indie titles, or even games where developers no longer have the rights to the product, it is unreasonable to expect a box-art overhaul there are plenty of examples of companies that do have the resources to update assets but simply won’t.

Rockstar Games for example, haven’t bothered to update their Steam releases for years, leaving L.A. Noire and Grand Theft Auto IV in almost unplayable states, and have continued this trend here – with all their past titles lacking the new box-art.

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Worse still is when companies update some of their games, but fail to update others (as pictured above with the Sonic franchise). It creates a disjointed feeling and the effect that, through no fault of Valve‘s, the update was in some way rushed or is unfinished.

Whilst some people’s suggestions that Valve should hire an army of interns to sit down and manually create box-art for every single game ever released on the platform are clearly un-achievable, there is a genuinely pragmatic solution quite close at hand.

For some years now, Steam has allowed the creation and sharing of customised user content via the Steam Workshop and it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to have this extended for box-art. There is already a feature implemented to have users be able to create and upload their own box-art to their games locally, so why not expand this facility to downloading and sharing the work of others.

By allowing users to select and download their favourite Steam game box art, or perhaps even just large user-made collections of it, Valve would be able to effectively fix the biggest issue plaguing their latest creation without having to lift a finger.

Admittedly, it’s not the best solution, and is certainly open to abuse (although not more so than the already existing Steam Workshop), it is clear that something at least needs to be done about this problem before the library beta is released to the public; and I for one am very curious to see what this “something” will be.

3 teeny-tiny developer mistakes that had catastrophic repercussions

Believe it or not, we all make mistakes. Mistake making is one of the defining characteristics of humanity. Believe it or not, Game developers are also human, and that means they can make mistakes. Unlike the rest of us however, the smallest mistakes on their end can have absolutely huge knock-on effects.

Although it is certainly through making mistakes we learn,  sometimes it can be quite fun just to look back at some painful memories and reminisce about our (or others’!) mistakes. This is exactly what we’ll be doing here by coming together to point and laugh at 3 examples of tiny developer mistakes that had catastrophic repercussionson their games.


 

3: Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing – Forgetting to make the truck move

Image result for Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing

Platform(s): PC

Price*: NA

Developer: Stellar Stone

When it comes to Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing, it’s quite hard to find part of the game that isn’t a mistake. It’s a veritable buffet of errors. Everything from the missing textures on maps to the strange behaviour of the “physics engine” and the non-existent collision detection for your vehicle aims to hamper this would-be racer.

After many hours (40 seconds) of careful deliberation however, we have decided that the most egregious error is the fact that the developers seem to have forgotten to make your opponent’s lorry move. That’s right; Big Rigs is a racing game – without the racing.

What’s worse is the fact that the developers could has programmed in your oppositions movement. In an official patch version that surfaced online some time after launch, your rival actually moves! They don’t finish the race of course, just stopping short of the finish line (sorry if I got your hopes up). At least it’s something I suppose.


2: Team Fortress 2 – The crate that crashed a market

Platform(s): PC

Price*: Free!

Developer: Valve

By 11 years old I had already made plenty of mistakes. In Team Fortress 2‘s almost 12 year career however, it had very few under its belt. After over a decade of clean updates that would put other titles to shame, Valve was long overdue a major muck-up and, sure enough, in the last few weeks it finally arrived.

Ironically, it wasn’t a large-scale update that finally broke the game; but the simple addition of a new crate. It should have been an easy task. The TF2 team was just getting ready for a nice summer break and just needed to add a few new cosmetics in a groovy summer box before they could kick back and relax. They’ve added literally hundreds of different crates over the game’s long lifetime; everyone thought nothing could go wrong.

Everything went wrong.

Some strange coding mishap resulted in the game’s most valuable items; the highly coveted “unusual” hats to drop guaranteed from certain crates. This naturally tanked the game’s thriving Steam Community Market based economy and cost some hat traders losses hundreds of pounds in real world cash. The long term effects of the mistake are still unknown, but the market seems to have stablised in the last week. At least the community seems to have taken the glitch well, with countless hilarious memes appearing on the game’s subreddit.


1: Aliens: Colonial Marines – Giving the aliens lead poisoning

Image result for Alien Colonial Marines

Platform(s): PC, XBOX 360, PS3

Price*: £24.99

Developer: Gearbox Software

Gearbox Software is no newbie when it comes to controversy. Although this year’s trend seems to be to victimise the company for their allegiance to the Epic Games Store they have fallen victim to the internet’s disdain on many previous occassions. One such occasions was the release of the highly anticipated Aliens: Colonial Marines way back in 2013.

Freshly burned by the company’s previous disaster; the absolutely dreadful Duke Nukem: Forever, many fans and critics were quick to notice that Aliens: Colonial Marines was bad. Quite bad in fact. The title was critically panned with one of the main criticisms directed at the enemy aliens’ utterly incompetent AI.

What would have been an already mediocre horror-FPS became completely farcical with enemies that got stuck in walls, jammed in corners or otherwise just failed to acknowledge your existence. It took 5 years for a strangely dedicated modding community to pin down a problem with the AI. It wasn’t that the alien’s were inherently badly programmed, but rather that their programming was jeopardised by a typo.

Believe it or not, a mere typo managed to absolutely decimate a modern AAA game. Correcting “PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachXenoToTether” to “PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachPawnToTeather” in one of the game’s files exponentially improves the enemy’s AI.

I’m not going to pretend that fixing this error makes the game that much more enjoyable, but it certainly makes it at least playable.


*Prices are Steam store prices (excluding discounts or sales) as of August 2019.

Team Fortress 2: Jungle Inferno update – day four – Review 

This is a continuation of a four part review. To read part three, click here. To read part two click here. To read part one click here.

Day 4:

Dawn of the final day, a blog post appears on the TF2 site revealing the grand information that…

Jungle Inferno has been delayed and will be coming out tomorrow. Previous Team Fortress updates have shipped in pretty poor states, so it’s nice to see valve actually trying ensure the most anticipated in update in TF history doesn’t ship broken although telling us at the height of anticipation that it will be delayed was a bit of a let down.

Crushing disappointment aside, day four has yielded one thing, a list of in-depth patch notes (probably intended to ship with the actual update).

Balance changes

Each balance change seems cleverly thought out and aims to increase the viability of the least used weapons and decrease the viability of the most overused items. Not many of the changes are truly groundbreaking but most will have at least a small impact on gameplay.

Steam controller support has, at long last, been properly implemented and some broken animations have been fixed. Overall, day four is just maintenance. Admittedly, much needed, maintenance that will certainly improve Team Fortress 2‘s overall experience.

Is day four of Jungle Inferno the amazing climactic peak at the end of this roller-coaster ride of an update that we wanted? No. But it is an additional little length track that will keep the Team Fortress ride running for a while longer.

And hey, we’ve still got Halloween and Christmas events to come!

Team Fortress 2: Jungle Inferno update – day three – Review 

This is a continuation of a four part review. To read part two click here. To read part one click here.

Day 3:

Three quarters of the way through the Jungle Inferno update and each day has gone from good to great to greater and its still looking up. Day three heralds the highly anticipated arrival of the pyro class overhaul and after the huge wait; Valve, in a generous apology gesture that would put many other AAA developers to shame, gives the community a whopping five new weapons (four pyro and one heavy), numerous overhauls and fixes, even second contract campaign all for free.

The already heavily memed “flyro”. Image Credit – teamfortress.com

The new “pyroland” (free) campaign is a small 5 mission taster of the new “contracker” system (for more info on that, see my day 2 coverage). Each mission unlocks one of the new weapons. This is in stark contrast to previous updates, which had players buying crates, desperately hoping for random drops or paying hugely over the odds on the Steam marketplace all for a chance to try out new weapons.

The new weapons added are each fairly unique, a fireball launcher, a slap and even a jet pack put a new spin on combat. For a full list of changes and some more in-depth info on the new weapons, you can visit the Team Fortress blog, right here.

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Image credit – newburgh gazette

After a long period of stagnation, Team Fortress 2 was in serious need of some seriously cool (or should I say, hot) new weapons and day three of the Jungle Inferno update is a huge game changer, no pun intended. We now eagerly await the fourth day, the final in this epic update saga. Stay tuned folks.

Team Fortress 2: Jungle Inferno update – day one – Review 

Day 1:

After an almost 500 day period of inactivity, valve have ended their apparent hiatus and delivered the newest Team Fortress 2 update: Jungle Inferno.

Image Credit – www.teamfortress.com/

Its fair to say that last year (especially when it comes to Team Fortress 2) valve made mistakes. The July 2016 Meet Your Match update, that introduced competitive matchmaking, absolutely ruined the TF2 experience for many, even the most die-hard fans like myself.

The question on every players mind right now is, “is it time to get back to TF2?” Time to dust off those character action figures? Time to once more proudly display your Mann Co. wall posters. Time to sip on some Bonk! Atomic Punch and boot up Team Fortress 2.

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Time to boot up one of my most played games again?

So far, first impressions seem good. Today marks day one of the whopping four day Jungle Update.  With a fantastic new animated short so rich in lore that it will surely cause any fan to squeal in delight, a lot of new taunts and teasers as what’s to come day one on its own would have constituted a fantastic update.

Why stay cooped up indoors this winter? Venture into Jungle Inferno’s series of tropical themed maps. Say “goodbye” to the stuffy, dusty dustbowls and gravel pits of the USA and say “hello” to the warm jungles of Brazil.

And now begins the waiting game. So far the Jungle Inferno update looks to be one of the best updates in Team Fortress history. What wonders will day two hold? Only time will tell. Stay tuned folks.