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Valve has always supported the modding community, which is why we're not really surprised at the news the company is releasing the Source Engine SDK (software development kit) into the community for free.
Previously, the Source SDK was released to gamers who had bought a game built using the engine (including Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source, Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2), but now - with TF2 going free-to-play, it makes sense that the SDK should, too.
The latest release also provides access to a handful of free mods, to whet your whistle.
At the moment though, nobody seems quite sure whether or not this was a planned release, or just something that occurred as a side effect with the TF2 upgrade. Not every mod works with the provided SDK, but it seems Valve are already planning a "more formal" release.
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.
Good news for gamers, great news for modders. Stay tuned, we'll be keeping an eye on this one and will let you know when the release is formalised.
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Jimmy the Geek