In a recent interview with Game Informer, game designer Warren Spector has revealed a number of new details regarding partnerships between his company, the now-defunct Junction Point Studios, and Valve Corporation back in the mid-2000’s. Prior to the Junction Point’s acquisition by Disney Interactive Studios in 2007, Valve apparently stepped in and saved the company from going out of business by allowing the team to develop new conceptual designs for Valve over a period of about two years while also conducting contract work for Disney on another project at the same time. This project later evolved into what we now know as Epic Mickey.
During this time, Warren and the team were largely involved in creating work for a new standalone Half-Life title set to be released on Steam, likely sometime around the release of Episode Two. Following Junction Point’s acquisition by Disney in 2007, all work related to the Half-Life title and their other non-Mickey Mouse projects was scrapped.
Later in the same interview, Warren explained the Half-Life title was set to stand as an “episode”, that would fill in one of the gaps in the Half-Life universe, describing how the team were looking to try and flesh out a specific part of the series’ fictional universe. Their conceptual work also involved the creation of what Warren dubbed the “Magnet Gun”, a new weapon with a number of reportedly exciting applications, including some which would have complimented the Gravity Gun’s existing toolset quite nicely. The Magnet Gun and its unspecified uses were all shelved when the project was scrapped.
A lot of this information isn't really "new" as such, but we thought Warren's recent reveal of the "Magnet Gun" was a good enough excuse to make a little round-up here of all the details for yet another of Half-Life's scrapped spin-off episodes.
About Junction Point Studios
Junction Point Studios was an independent studio established in November of 2004 by Warren Spector and Art Min, the latter of whom had previously worked at Valve. The studio spent much of their time creating concept ideas and attempting to find funding partners. In December of 2005, the company announced that it was working with Valve on a new video game project using the Source engine to be delivered via Steam. This was later revealed to be a Half-Life 2 episode that went unfinished.
While Dota fans around the world are used to looking forward to the annual International tournament at this point, they may soon have a lot more to be interested in! As announced today, Dota 2 fans will now have three more large-scale Valve-sponsored tournaments to look forward to in the form of the "Dota Major Championships". The four tournaments, taking place across each of the seasons, will see the best teams in the world competing at premier venues across the globe thanks to third-party organisers, with the "Summer" championship taking on the form of the annual International.
The Dota 2 eSporting scene has been under a lot of fire recently as fans and players gradually lose interest in the game due to constantly shifting and uncertain team configurations as organisers scramble to have a line-up worthy of competing in the yearly International. This should hopefully all change with these new tournaments which, starting in Fall 2015, will allow teams to focus on more than a single, game-changing championship. Other details are currently scarce, with Valve claiming more will be revealed in the run-up to the first championship in Fall following The International 2015.
The blog post which revealed the new championships also confirmed that next week will see Valve release The International Compendium for this year's event alongside a brand new "major balance update", which will likely begin addressing recent gameplay concerns, such as the gold and experience comeback mechanics. This can only mean good things are coming, so we'll be sure to bring you more information as we have it.
Since its debut, items on the Steam Workshop for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim have garnered a total of over 170 million downloads to date. In order to facilitate and encourage community content creators even further, today Valve announced that Steam Workshop creators will now be able to sell their creations directly on the Steam Workshops for certain games and receive a portion of the generated revenue. This new functionality begins today with Skyrim as the first game to support monetized Workshop items.
Along with the announcement came the news that the process for listing, selling, and managing Workshop items has been newly-streamlined with a host of new features. For instance, content creators will have free reign to choose their own prices for their own items -- and of course, “free” will always remain an option. Additionally, Workshop creators now have access to new tools that will allow them to easily keep track of item sales and revenue.
Similarly to Steam Greenlight, items which were produced by multiple people can now be set to distribute revenue to each contributing member as part of a team. Since this addition opens the doors for using assets from other Workshop items, it also allows Workshop items to have dependencies/requirements, such as having specific games, DLC, or other mods already installed.
In an effort to stave off unwarranted reviews, paid Workshop items will now require users to purchase them before being able to review them. Additionally, all paid Workshop items will henceforth give users the option of returning for a refund within 24 hours of purchasing.
Despite being a mere few hours old, the new paid Workshop policies have already proven controversial, with many users pointing out that this new system takes away a lot of the incentive that creators have to make their content available for free. There have been a great many people suggesting that a donation-based system would be preferable to this full-on purchasing approach, as it gates off a substantial amount of content that would otherwise be free.
While Skyrim is the only title to support these new Workshop features as of today, Valve have made it clear that more titles should follow in the coming weeks. So, as usual, we’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date on all the latest Workshop news.
As promised back at the HTC Vive's announcement in early March, sign-up for the developer edition of the virtual reality headset is now available. Unlike developer kits for the Oculus Rift, Valve are providing the HTC Vive to game developers free of charge should they successfully pass a team and project screening process over on the application website.
While previously speculated, it has been revealed that the developer edition is not for sale in any capacity, forcing those not lucky enough to be in a position of acquiring one to wait until the consumer edition is available in "Holiday 2015". Only those who do receive developer editions will be able to discuss the headset and SteamVR in general over on the new SteamVR Development Hardware discussion forum, which is available for everyone to publicly read.
Once sign-ups are complete, developer kits will be shipped every few weeks over a period of several months throughout Spring and Summer 2015. This should hopefully give developers a 5-6 month window to begin developing or porting games to the device in order to get a nicely robust library prepared in time for the HTC Vive's public release later this year.
The past week was relatively quiet as far as official news goes, as Valve's development team was taking some much deserved time off in Hawaii for the company's annual break. That said, we still managed to find plenty of Half-Life news to talk about in this week's episode, including brand new details regarding the Black Mesa Multiplayer mode and a record-breaking speedrun of Half-Life 2 completed in a mind blowing 1:31:01!
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