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Big Download's News Bits & Bytes - March 10

Tomorrow PAX East 2011 begins and it might just be the single most attended US game event of the year. Who would have thought that just a couple of years ago?

Left 4 Dead 2 blog reveals future DLC plans

Left 4 Dead 2 hasn't had a new official DLC release since last October's The Sacrifice. However developer Valve revealed some early plans for the next batch of DLC for its zombie co-op shooter on the game's official blog site today. The update states that the DLC will include the three remaining Left 4 Dead 1 campaigns that have not yet been adapted into Left 4 Dead 2 levels. It will also contains a campaign called Cold Stream created by community mapper Matthew Lourdelet.

The blog site states they are looking for the community to offer up their input on the DLC pack and have started up a forum thread for anyone to give their ideas. The release date for the DLC pack is still vague with Valve saying only it will be coming out after its puzzle shooter sequel Portal 2 is released.

[Via Blue's News]

Toy Fair 2011 shows off new Duke Nukem, BioShock and more game-themed action figures

The annual Toy Fair is happening right now in New York City and for the 2011 edition action figure companies are breaking out plans to release new figures based on current and upcoming games. NECA always has a ton of game-related action figures coming down the pike and Figures.com has a gallery full of what the company is showing off at Toy Fair this year.

As you can see one of the upcoming NECA figures is a highly detailed Duke Nukem that's slated for release in April just before Duke Nukem Forever comes out in May. It also showed off some upcoming figures from its BioShock line and announced that in 2012 it would be releasing figures based on the next game in the series BioShock Infinite.

Over at Kotaku they have posted up a video showing off some current and upcoming collectible statues from Gaming Heads, who have previously released statues based on Valve's games. Upcoming products in the video include a Smoker Infected from the Left 4 Dead series and a Portal 2 turret. Gaming Heads is also working on more Valve-based statues including a Gordon Freeman statue from Half-Life 2 that we suspect will sell out quickly.

[Picture credit: Figures.com]

Left 4 Dead 2 gets new Nightmare community Mutation mod

Valve continues to offer up new Mutation gameplay modes for its zombie co-op shooter Left 4 Dead 2. Today the latest community mutation has gone live via a new update and the new gameplay modes is for people who like to be afraid of the dark.

The Nightmare gameplay mode has the typical common infected in its campaign along with some Special infected that have been "beefed up" to an unknown degree. But in Nightmare mode there are no glows for the player character and the maps are filled with fog. In other words, an infected could pounce on you without prior visual warnings. The mutation will be on Valve's servers for the next two weeks.

Left 4 Dead 2 offers up new community Mutation mode and more

Developer Valve continues to offer up community-made content to its zombie co-op shooter Left 4 Dead 2. For the next two weeks players will have the option of trying out the Riding My Jockey mutation in Versus mode. In this variation, the infected Jockeys have increased health and speed and can do more damage. The human side also have an increased hatred for the Jockey's call. Mayhem will likely ensue.

In addition to the community mutation, the newest update for Left 4 Dead 2 also adds support for "raw mouse input on PC." That means that the game now has the option of bypassing the normal Windows control panel mouse setting and can now take input directly from the mouse itself. This should make playing the game better with gaming PC mice that have high DPI settings.

Valve's Gabe Newell still "tremendously excited" about PC gaming's future

The PC gaming genre has gotten a second look by many developers and publishers in the past year and part of the reason is the success of Valve's Steam PC game download service. In a new chat with Develop, Valve's head man Gabe Newell is quoted as saying that he is "tremendously excited about the future of PC gaming."

He added that he considers the PC platform to be a center of game development innovation "... of everything that's going on, whether it's microtransactions, MMOs, free-to-play, or something like (Zynga's Facebook game) CityVille which – after its first month – has 84 million people playing. To us, this is just an indication of why open platforms are where innovations are going to occur."

Valve has certainly been a part of that innovative PC game platform with both Steam and its Steamworks game development tools being used by more and more game developers and publishers. It has two PC games due out in 2011, the puzzle-shooter sequel Portal 2 and the action-RTS remake DOTA 2.

Left 4 Dead 2 adds new Flu Season mutation mode for New Year's Eve

While some people will be heading out to their local hangout to toast in 2011 with some good friends (and maybe some strangers who will become good friends) others will be playing one last Left 4 Dead 2 online game for 2010. Today some of those players will check out a new Mutation gameplay mode for Valve's zombie co-op shooter.

It's called Flu Season and in today's Left 4 Dead blog update Valve says its actually a combination of two commuity-created Mutation modes: "Boomer Shooter" by SR69MMJC and "Spitters!" by Karma Jockey. Basically Flu Season gives players only Boomers and Spitters to deal with, with common infected created only by the Boomer specials. Oh, and apparently the Boomers and Spitters "amped up" to a large degree. Happy New Year.

Steam brings us more one-day PC game sales

The Steam PC game download site continues through its annual holiday sale with a new batch of deep price cuts for various games. The following prices are good until 1 pm Eastern time on Friday:

Grand Theft Auto IV + Episodes from Liberty City - $10
Singularity - $24.99
Star Trek Online Digital Deluxe Edition - $7.50
Grand Ages Rome series - Save 80 percent off all games in series
R.U.S.E. - $33.49
The Elder Scrolls IV Game Of The Year Edition - $9.99
Hegemony: Phillip of Macedon - $3
Transformers War for Cybertron - $19.99
Need For Speed Hot Pursuit - $29.99
Europa Universalis III Complete - $5
Shatter - $2.50
Left 4 Dead 2 - $6.79 or $4.99 if you own Left 4 Dead 1

Valve's experimental psychologist talks about putting in features for disabled gamers

Most game developers don't have an experimental psychologist on staff. Then again Valve isn't like most game developers. Gamasutra talked with Valve's own psychologist Mike Ambinder about one of the things Valve has done to make its game different than norm; features made specifically to assist disabled gamers.

Some of those features include a colorblind mode, closed captions and subtitles, in-game pauses for single player campaigns and others. Ambinder states that such features also benefit able gamers as well. He states, "For example, both groups of gamers benefit from the ability to pause Left 4 Dead 2 if they need to take a break or escape from the action, and the addition of subtitles allows all gamers to process the in-game dialogue/sound effects through an alternative visual medium if that is their preference."

New Left 4 Dead 2 plush toys available for pre-order but will miss Christmas

Earlier this year Valve offered up an adorable Boomer Left 4 Dead 2 plush toy on its merchandise online store. We've been promised that this would not be the only Special infected character to be turned into a cute plush toy. This week two more of them, the Hunter and the Tank, showed up for pre-order on the store. Each toy comes with their own in-game sounds from their character from the game (batteries are naturally not included)

Unfortunately, Valve has chosen to not ship the two new Left 4 Dead 2 figures until December 27 which means you will have to give your loved one an I.O.U. note under the Christmas tree. On the plus side Valve is cutting 10 percent off the price of each toy before it ships out.
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