Train2Game news: Counter-Strike creator’s new FPS going into closed beta

Train2Game students have the opportunity to register for the closed beta for Tactical Intervention, the new free-to-play FPS from Counter-Strike creator Minh “Gooseman” Le.

The Tactical Intervention closed beta begins in March, and if you want to apply to be involved, head to the website and follow the instructions. While the beta is currently restricted to North America, it’s likely that other regions will follow, so it can’t hurt to register your interest.

Train2Game students can watch the trailer for Tactical Intervention below.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is currently in closed beta, and speaking to The Train2Game Blog at last year’s EuroGamer expo, Valve’s Chet Faliszek said that beta testing is important to game development.

“It’s really important to us because we’re going to let that drive the release date, because we’re really looking to get the feedback from the community over the changes we’ve made.” he said.

“We’ve brought over some stuff that was good from Counter-Strike: Source and we’ve brought over some stuff that was good from 1.6, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the communities react.” the Valve game designer continued.

“Already we’ve got some positive feedback from some of the pros, but we’re telling the communities it’s not going to be either, it’s going to be something new so let’s play it, let’s give feedback and let’s go from there.” Faliszek added.

Beta testing is an excellent way for Train2Game students, especially those on the Games QA Tester course to practice their bug hunting skills. Not only that, but in an interview with the Train2Game blog, Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars said that beta testing is potentially a way to get into the industry.

For the latest news on beta testing opportunities, keep reading The Train2Game Blog.

What are your initial thoughts on Tactical Intervention?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: CS:GO beta begins tomorrow

Train2Game students who were lucky enough to pick up keys at The Eurogamer Expo can get involved with the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive beta from tomorrow.

As reported by the Train2Game blog, Valve’s beta test was supposed to start in October before being delayed after feedback from professional players. However, those with keys will be able to begin beta testing from tomorrow, with Dust and Dust 2 the first maps available to play.

Valve plan to expand the CS:GO beta as it goes on, with the idea that it’ll eventually become the full-game. In an interview with the Train2Game blog at the Eurogamer Expo, Valve’s Chet Faliszek said that beta testing is an important part of the game development process for CS:GO, and ultimately it’s player feedback that’ll drive the eventual full release date.

It’s really important to us because we’re going to let that drive the release date,” said Faliszek on beta testing.

“Because we’re really looking to get the feedback from the community over the changes we’ve made. We’ve brought over some stuff that was good from Counter-Strike: Source and we’ve brought over some stuff that was good from 1.6, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the communities react.”

Beta testing is good way for Train2Game students to test their bug finding skills, and according to Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars in an interview with the Train2Game blog, it’s also a potential way to get a foot in the door of the games industry.

There’s a lot more about beta testing and its importance to game development, here on the Train2Game blog.

So Train2Game, are you going to be involved with the CS:GO beta test? What will you be looking for?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game interview: Valve’s Chet Faliszek on CS:GO


Train2Game attended the Eurogamer Expo, and during our time there we had a chat with Valve Software writer Chet Faliszek about Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In an in depth interview, Faliszek discusses the reasons for making CS: GO, bringing the PC title to consoles,  the importance of beta testing and much more.

The Valve Software writer also tells the Train2Game blog how important modding can be as part of finding work in the games industry.

Read the interview below, on Train2Game’s Scribd page, or listen to it via Train2Game Radio.

We’re over ten years on from the original Counter-Strike, why is the time right for CS: GO now?

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive started because we were actually originally just going to do a port of Counter-Strike: Source for XBLA. Internally we started playing it a lot and released that ‘Oh, this is a lot of fun’ We forgot how much fun this translates over to the 360 now we’ve got really good at this, so we should make a bigger investment, a full game and expand out what it is.

What are the main Game Design changes that have been made to CS: GO?

One of the cool things with Counter-Strike is it’s been around for so long, that there’s a lot of feedback we can get about what works and what doesn’t work. So we’ve taken a look at 1.6, we’ve taken a look at Counter-Strike: Source, we’ve kind of taken the best of both worlds and we think we’ve created the best version of Counter-Strike.

Which modes will be available in the upcoming game?

We’re going to have the classic bomb planting and hostage and rescue, and were also going to have – again looking back to the community, they had worked on gun game – and so we’re incorporating gun game directly into what we call ‘Arsenal modes.’  We have two of those modes; one is Demolition and that’s about bomb planting and team based Gun Game. And then we also have Arms Race which is the classic Gun Game where every kill you get, you get a new gun and then eventually you get to the knife round.

How difficult has  it been to bring what’s fundamentally a PC game onto consoles?

We don’t really ever look at games that way. As a company, as gamers ourselves, we play on too many different platforms just to think of a game being that anymore. I mean, I play Left4Dead on console as much as I play it on PC, so you know, I think we’ve become accustomed to that.

It’s been fun watching people jump down here and say ‘Oh man, I can’t believe you don’t have keyboard and mouse here,’ and then they play on the PS3 and go ‘Oh yeah, that works pretty well.’

It’s had a good reaction from the hardcore Counter-Strike fans then?

Yeah, actually what’s really funny is at PAX back in Seattle, we were showing it on the 360 and we had a pro-gaming website come in really dissing that we had it on the 360. And they sat down and ran over everybody and they loved it.

Is there a mode for players who might be new to Counter-Strike, but don’t want to get run over by veteran players?

Well actually in all of our modes we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen, but we have the Social Mode which you’re seeing here. You get all the weapons, there’s no friendly fire, all talk is on and it’s a place to have fun with your friends and you’re talking about your girlfriend’s or what you’re talking about on TV while you’re playing the game.

But also there’s also a skill based mode which is all about the skill based matchmaking, so that’ll always make sure you’re having a competitive game without getting owned by someone who’s been playing for  ten years and is tonnes better than you – they’re going to be playing against different people than you will.

You’re giving out beta keys here, how important is that phase in the development of a game?

It’s really important to us because we’re going to let that drive the release date, because we’re really looking to get the feedback from the community over the changes we’ve made. We’ve brought over some stuff that was good from Counter-Strike: Source and we’ve brought over some stuff that was good from 1.6, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the communities react.

Already we’ve got some positive feedback from some of the pros, but we’re telling the communities it’s not going to be either, it’s going to be something new so let’s play it, let’s give feedback and let’s go from there.

Valve Software has a reputation for hiring modders, is modding therefore a good way for a budding game developer to get noticed?

It’s a really good way for someone to get noticed because it shows that you’re able. Normally modders have to work as a team and that’s important, and they also have to be able to finish something and that’s really important. So those two things together are a really good way to demonstrate that you’re ready to work in the industry.

What other advice would you give to someone looking to work in the games industry?

Make sure you’re doing something.  Do whatever you’re doing, like we (at Valve) weren’t necessarily writing for games when Gabe (Newell) tapped us, but do whatever you do as well as you can and with a view as to what your eventual goal will be.

Anything else you’d like to add about CS: GO?

We’re going to have the beta starting in October, check it out. We think it’s the best version of Counter-Strike there is, and you can help us make it the best version.

Thanks for your time.

The CS:GO beta begins in October, with a Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC released scheduled for early 2012.

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

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Train2Game good news for modders! Source SDK will soon be free

Exciting news for Train2Game modding enthusiasts! Valve has revealed that their Source Software Development Kit will be available to anyone for free.

The announcement comes following Valve stating that they were working on making the Source SDK ‘less painful to use, as reported by the Train2Game blog earlier this year.

Currently, you need to buy a Source based game such as Half-Life 2 in order to gain access to the mod tools, but it appears Team Fortress 2 going free-to-play last week has fundamentally changed this.

The news of the Source SDK becoming free first appeared on Reddit, after a mod tester known as Riley contacted Team Fortress 2 developer Robin Walker to ask if buying an in-game item would allow access to the tools. Walker replied with:

“Yep. That said, your email has triggered a process here that made us re-examine that, and we’re going to just go ahead and make the Source SDK freely available. Thanks for making us better!”

PC Gaming blog Rock, Paper Shotgun also contacted Walker to confirm the news, to which he replied:

“We are in the process of getting it all done. It’s a bit messy because we have multiple versions of the SDK, and there’s some dependencies we need to shake out. But yes, the gist of it is that we’re just going to go ahead and make the Source SDK freely available.”

So there’s good news for budding Train2Game game developers, you’ll now be able to access the Source modding tools for free!

Valve have a long history of supporting modders, and as many Train2Game students will know, the popular shooter Counter-Strike begun as a mod for the original Half-Life.

More recently, Valve have allowed Team Fortress 2 community developers a cut of the revenue made from the in-game items sold through digital transactions.

In an interview published on the Train2Game blog last month, Red Faction: Armageddon Lead Level Designer Jameson Durall said that modding is an excellent way for those with desires to get into the games industry to practice their skills.

So Train2Game, will you be using the Source SDK? Have you used it before? And does the  support Valve give mods inspire you?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Rock, Paper Shotgun]

Polycount contest winners work to become part of Team Fortress 2

Get with it indeed.

The Engineer Update is still very much a new thing, but even more new items for Team Fortress 2 are already in the works. This time however, it isn’t Valve who’ve been the creative force behind new weapons and hats, but members of Polycount – a video game art and resource community.  (Perhaps our Train2Game Artist & Animator students should join the site if they’re not already members)

Valve and Polycount teamed up to members of the art community the chance to create items that will actually be used in Team Fortress 2. The brief went:

“Pick a single Team Fortress 2 class and create a minimum of three custom items for them. These items can be made up of any combination of weapons (melee, primary, secondary), Engineer buildings and/or hats. These items must be cohesively themed and fit within the Team Fortress 2 universe and time period. Make sure your replacement item set maintains the existing functionality of the original items they’re replacing, specifically any Primary, Secondary or Melee weapons you replace in your set.”

The content received an overwhelming response with over 70 sets – that’s at least 210 items – submitted by artists and designers. Now, Valve have managed to judge the entries and have selected five item sets that will eventually be released into Team Fortress 2. That’s after Valve work out how they’ll “attach gameplay attributes (probably of a game destroying nature) to these items.”  – Yeah, that quotes taken directly from the Team Fortress 2 blog!

which Polycount item sets will soon be available to all Team Fortress 2 players then?  Well, they are a heavy duty Tank Buster pack for The Soldier, a Milk Man themed item set for The Scout, 1950’s Gas station attendant gear for The Pyro, a nifty Saharan get up for The Spy, and finally ‘The Croco-Style Kit’ for The Sniper.  All of the items look very impressive and you can feast your eyes on them by visiting the Team Fortress 2 Polycount Pack Winners page.

Of course this isn’t the first time Valve have encouraged other Game Designers, Game Developers and Game Artist and Animators to contribute to their projects. After all, Counter Strike started as a community run fan project, while Portal was originally developed by students. Aspiring designers have already seen their maps and items become official in previous Team Fortress 2 updates thanks the Contribute! initiative.

Regular readers will know that this isn’t the first time I’ve praised Valve’s scheme and encouraged Train2Game students to get involved. It really does seem like it would be a good idea for Train2Game Designers to produce something. After all, you could strike it lucky and end up seeing your hard work on display in a game played by millions of people worldwide. Even if your items don’t get into the game, time practicing designing items can only be useful to your future career in the games industry.

So, what do you think of Valve’s enthusiasm for community developed items? Do you think you’ll be getting involved? How many of you play Team Fortress 2?

As usual, leave your comments here or on the Train2Game forum.

The PC – The ideal platform for Train2Game students?

Dragon Age: proof of a popular PC game

My spiffing Train2Game colleague Gabe recently published a blog about PC gaming, and as what could be described as a ‘hardcore’ PC gamer myself, it got me thinking.

Gabe’s blog came following remarks from Bioware that the PC “is made for gaming” which seemed rather obvious to me. It should of course be obvious to anyone who’s played a Bioware Role Playing Game, be it Mass Effect or Dragon Age: Origins.

When it comes to these RPG’s, it’s the PC that’s king, and in an interview with CVG, Bioware designer and writing director Daniel Erickson says the numbers speak for themselves.

“Every two or three years we hear the announcement of fantasy being dead, PC gaming being dead and RPGs being dead, and yet, all of the biggest games that ever come out – that set the records – are nearly always PC games, and a lot of them are fantasy games.”

The biggest game in the world is a fantasy, PC, RPG MMO. We all know the drawbacks of PC. We all scream at our boxes and try to make stuff work. But at the same time, the interface is made for games. The mouse/keyboard interface allows so much less restriction [Than consoles]”

Personally, I’ve not experienced Dragon Age: Origins on a console  – I play it on PC – but it’s certainly obvious to me how much easier it must be to play on a PC as you can easily access spells and talents using hot keys 1-9 and the space bar easily pauses the action. I’d imagine the whole process is a bit fiddler using a control pad, but if you can do so, feel free to prove me wrong!

The PC certainly gives Train2Game students, be they Games Designer, Games Developer or Games Artist & Animator, an opportunity to test their skills thanks to the number of games with large modding communities.  Half Life 2 and Fallout 3 are just two games that a loyal fanbase who are giving others the opportunity to try new weapons, new skins or even whole games.  Counter-Strike, one of the most popular online shooters of all time, started as a fan produced Half Life mod and shows that with the right ideas, modding a current game could provide a small studio with a big break.

Some developers even encourage the addition of community content to their games, with Valve perhaps providing the best example of this with Team Fortress 2. Valve have run numerous community competitions calling on fans to create items in the form of weapons and hats with the winners being able to see their creations in game. There seem to be a lot of talented Games Designers out there, and Valve are going to have a tough time deciding on a winner of the most recent contest!

The PC is the most popular gaming platform, partially due to the rise in the popularity of flash games which in itself provides even more opportunities for Train2Game students to create games.

So what do you think? Would you consider creating PC games? Have you already made mods? As usual, let us know here on the Train2Gameforum.