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In this ValveTime Review, we're checking out what is likely the weirdest and most unusual mod we've ever discussed. We were intrigued to check out the "fairly casual exploration" mod, "A Minuted Millions", after the game's creator introduced it to us on our forums last month. What do we think of this absolutely ridiculous Portal 2 mod? Let's find out!
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After the great success of community-made Dota 2 merchandise in the build up to The International 2014, Valve have expanded their reach and are now accepting Team Fortress 2 themed merchandise to the Steam Workshop.
The page is already filling up with new t-shirt and poster designs, so be sure to head on over if you've got your own ideas. Before you do that, you will probably want to check out the updated Workshop FAQ, which provides some useful details regarding how an item may be sold, how a contributor will be paid, and why Valve are looking to expand the growth of TF2 merchandise.
After months of private community testing, the "CP_Snowplow" map planned for release with the upcoming "End of the Line" update was leaked to Reddit earlier today. The map, which is heavily related to the End of the Line short created by James McVinnie, has BLU team guide a train through a map while RED team attempt to destroy it with large traps. BLU team must capture control points in a linear fashion to prevent the traps from doing damage to the train, eventually destroying it after 10 successful hits.
The map, which is being created by community mappers YM and Frozen, was recently opened up for "public" beta testing amongst the TF2Maps.net community in order to receive more gameplay feedback about balancing, progression, and flow. Unfortunately, one of the individuals invited to this evening's test decided to leak the map and a number of screenshots to Reddit, effectively drawing back the curtain on what was a well-kept community secret.
In response, Frozen and YM have decided to release a new version of the map to the public on the TF2Maps.net EU and US servers, allowing anyone to play the current version of the map freely while also providing important gameplay information, such as feedback and heatmap data. Like Asteroid and Cactus Canyon, Snowplow is far from complete and features a bunch of weird balancing issues, incomplete architecture, and missing textures.
If you're looking to check out the map ahead of its release later this year, be sure to head on over to the TF2Maps.net servers, as playing over there will help collect data for Frozen and YM to help make the map even better. If you would rather wait until the map was all shiny and finished, we don't blame you.
Personally, I've been involved in the private testing of the map since early May, and it's been exciting to see how the level has continually grown and changed over months of iteration. With over a terabyte of raw footage recorded from over 30 different map versions, expect to see a very special episode of ValveTime Spotlight Exclusive arrive alongside the release of the End of the Line short and the fully finished version of Snowplow sometime in the future.
With the release of Dota 2's Source 2 development tools, the announcement of Counter-Strike Nexon: Zombies, the build-up to the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive championship at ESL One Cologne 2014, and a whole load of game and software updates, it's been one heck of a busy week!
With so much Valve news coming thick and fast these days, don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with all the latest. Thanks for watching!
It's interesting when you look at how Valve's idea of entertainment in the living room has evolved over the years. It really is yet another testament to the fact that this company continues to practice the art of iterative design - a cyclical process of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a product.
It was in 2011 when we got our first glimpse of Steam in the living room. Valve announced Big Picture Mode, which was touted as merely an interface upgrade for Steam that offered "controller support and navigation designed for television interaction." It wasn't clear at this point what direction Valve was going in the living room or how far they were willing to go.
Later that year, Greg Coomer, a veteran Valve employee and Steam engineer, quietly tweeted this photograph of a high-end, Xbox-sized gaming PC that he had built. At the time, nobody had predicted that this was in fact a prototype for what we now call Steam Machines.
In September 2012, almost a year after Greg Coomer's tweet, Valve officially released Big Picture Mode into the wild. It was also around this time that they began to make it clear that they were looking into producing gaming hardware because they were "frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space," so Valve began hiring hardware & electrical engineers like Ben Krasnow and Jeff Keyzer, to name a few. Gabe Newell also publicly came out and said that Valve was definitely planning to release living room hardware in 2013.
It was this time last year when a lot of the pieces began to fall in place. Valve ran an advertisement campaign to announce the Steam Universe, a set of platforms specifically designed for video games in the living room - SteamOS, Steam Machines, and the Steam Controller. A few months later, Valve unveiled the first generation of 3rd-party manufactured Steam Machines.
And only months ago, Valve released features for Steam that would greatly enhance both the desktop and living room experience. They introduced Steam Family Sharing, a service that allows you to share your Steam library with friends and family. Another new feature included In-Home Streaming, giving you the ability to stream games from your high-end gaming rig to a media PC or laptop.
Now we come to today's news.
Still missing are a lot of other features that platforms like the Xbox has that the Steam Universe lacks (natively). Where is Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, HBO Go, or other media streaming services that also make up the backbone of entertainment in the living room? Well, according to the folks at SteamDB, a lot of these services, or ones like them, could be making their way into Steam and the Steam Universe soon.
SteamDB said that Valve updated their Steam binaries in a beta update today, and they found that a few new application-type IDs were added. Films, TV Series, Videos, Plugins, and Music are all coming to Steam. We were kind of given a hint that Valve was moving towards these services in another beta update a few weeks ago. In the update were references to the popular Spotify music player.
So, after almost four years of iterative design, the big picture of Steam and Valve in your living room is clear. They want to directly compete with the big dogs like Microsoft and Sony, and Valve certainly has the capability to succeed. Their iterative design process has provided them with a stable footing to launch off of.
The entire Steam Universe platform is still in beta, but because most of the pieces of the puzzle have been filled by Valve, we expect 2015 is the year they will begin to invade our living rooms. So stay tuned as we bring you more news in the coming weeks and months.
Image credit: @SteamDB
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