Steam Offers Alien Storm Game, Source for FREE

July 19, 2010 -

Although not necessarily fitting for the pages of Game Politics, everyone enjoys getting something for free, and beginning today Valve is offering a brand new game - along with its course code - with no strings attached. The game is a top down cooperative shooter called Alien Swarm. Valve will also be releasing all the source code for the Steamworks-integrated title as part of a SDK update also to be released today.

The game was originally being developed by Black Cat, but after Valve hired the entire team to work on Portal 2 and Left 4 Dead series, development on the Source Engine based shooter game slowed to a crawl, with Black Cat working on it in its spare time.

You can learn more about the game by visiting www.alienswarm.comSteamPowered.com or by firing up your Steam client.

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Re: Steam Offers Alien Storm Game, Source for FREE

Couldn't help noticing a few typos as well. It's called Alien Swarm not Storm, and Source code not Course code.

Spell check can only do so much XD

Re: Steam Offers Alien Storm Game, Source for FREE

Fixed in the story now -- but still not in the headline.

Re: Steam Offers Alien Storm Game, Source for FREE

And this news is political how? don't get me wrong I like free games as much as the next guy but there's a reason the site is called GamePolitics

http://www.magicinkgaming.com/

Re: Steam Offers Alien Storm Game, Source for FREE

Drop it.  Even Dennis posted items that he admitted had nothing to do with politics.

Re: Steam Offers Alien Storm Game, Source for FREE

Which, as I've said before, is not actually a rebuttal so much as a "Hey!  Look over there!"

But I really DO think, the article's first-sentence disclaimer aside, this is a political story, because free software is an inherently political issue.  (Now, the Open-Source movement, from its very inception, seeks to avoid that political bent, but I'd argue it's not entirely successful.)

Re: Steam Offers Alien Storm Game, Source for FREE

"And this news is political how?"

It's not, as admitted in the article's very first sentence.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Steam Offers Alien Storm Game, Source for FREE

I know I'm one of the guys who's complained in the past about off-topic articles on GP, but I'm actually inclined to disagree on this one -- a major publisher releasing a title under free-as-in-beer and free-as-in-speech terms IS political.

Anyone know what license it's published under?

Re: Steam Offers Alien Storm Game, Source for FREE

"a major publisher releasing a title under free-as-in-beer and free-as-in-speech terms IS political."

Eh, I think you're stretching things a bit.  It's being released through Valve, but at the same time, you could just as easily say that that it's just a free port of a previously free UT2k4 mod that was made by a cool indie team.  The only difference now is that the Black Cat folks have more prominent (and well deserved!) day jobs, and their employer's giving some free promotion to an impressive mod.

That being said, even as an off-topic post, I still find it more interesting that some of the other articles that get posted.  For example, the article about people in England needing to lock their doors doesn't really have a political hook (beyond involving crime prevention) and doesn't really have a gaming hook (beyond the fact that gaming consoles represent one of the many things that burglars like to steal).

As for Alien Swarm, I've only played the UT2k4 version, but it was a blast.  Most immediately noticeable is that it's using an FPS engine for a non-FPS view.  Instead, it's top-down view of a 3D world that plays like a 2D game.  W/A/S/D is used for absolute movement (i.e. W always moves to the top of the screen regardless of which way your character's facing), and your character always faces and fires toward your mouse pointer.

There are a number of things in the game that can also be seen in the L4D series: Friendly fire is always on (and really forces team-work; in a top-down setup, it's a lot easier to split up who's responsible for enemies coming from which direction).  Games consist of campaigns that're generally designed to be completed in a single extended play session with the campaigns broken into discrete levels (corresponding to the sections between safe houses in L4D).  Characters have limited carrying capacity and have to rely on being part of a team to get everything done, and bots are used to pad the team out to 4 players.  Supplies are finite but not anemic and are replenished between levels.  Characters all have pre-assigned names and personalities.

Unlike L4D, Alien Swarm has distinct character classes (heavy weapons, medic, tech, etc.).  It also has more complicated maps.  It's harder to get lost in a top-down view, and it didn't have the commercial necessity of trying to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, so they could make things a bit trickier.  In addition, the potential for characters with certain skills or equipment allowed them to vary some of the routes and interaction that could take place with the level.  Finally, it's got some RPG elements with characters leveling up skills between maps based largely on their performance in the level.

Overall, it was a fun game.  Unless they completely botched the Source port (which I find highly unlikely), I'd say it's worth the download.

Re: Steam Offers Alien Storm Game, Source for FREE

"Eh, I think you're stretching things a bit.  It's being released through Valve, but at the same time, you could just as easily say that that it's just a free port of a previously free UT2k4 mod that was made by a cool indie team."

Fair, but releasing the source and dev tools to encourage community development is a good bit of PR and also a positive outreach to the public.

There are other questions here which have a political bent: what's the license, and does it cover the resources or just the code?  Those might seem like technicalities but they have pretty broad implications to how the source can be reused.

As for the UK "lock your doors" story, yeah, pretty pointless, but GP's wheat-to-chaff ratio has been sky-high lately.  A lot of it's because of Schwarzenegger v. EMA, but whatever the reason, they've really been hitting it out of the park these last few weeks, and it's a lot easier to ignore the fluff stories when there are comparatively few of them.

 
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