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Bill Van Buren Talks Half-Life 2

timothy posted about 9 years ago | from the still-waiting-for-global-thermonuclear-war dept.

PC Games (Games) 295

node writes "Pixel Kill has up a summary of the talk Bill Van Buren recently gave in London on the development of Half-Life 2. It's an interesting insight into some of the design decisions that resulted in such a fantastic game, plus there are some bits about the direction they're taking the upcoming expansion."

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Can I play it (2, Interesting)

WormholeFiend (674934) | about 9 years ago | (#13029053)

without connecting to a remote server through teh internets yet?

Re:Can I play it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029076)

Because we know connecting to the internet is a major problem for most /. users.

Re:Can I play it (3, Informative)

xXBondsXx (895786) | about 9 years ago | (#13029099)

Half Life: Aftermath is going to be a Steam-online-distribution-exclusive product, so you're going to have to connect to "teh internets" ;-D

Re:Can I play it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029152)


Khhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnn!!!! !

Die Steam! Die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die!!!!!

//I really dislike Steam

Re:Can I play it (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029130)

What - are you on dialup?
I don't even consider a computer which isn't attached to the internet to be a computer.

You can play hl2 offline once you have gone through the initial install.

Re:Can I play it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029232)

I don't even consider a computer which isn't attached to the internet to be a computer.

Bill Gates has trained you well.

Re:Can I play it (1)

godders (517242) | about 9 years ago | (#13029448)

Don't be stupid, It was pretty recently that the realisation that many people connect their windows pcs directly to the internet came as a complete shock to MS. The firewall didn't even appear until the latest version, they barely even recognised the existance of the internet before win2k (save for beating netscape into submission by forcing their browser on everyone..)

Re:Can I play it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029160)

Yes you can play the game without buying it.

but seriously if you can get to /. to moan bout it, you can play it.

Re:Can I play it (-1)

Fallen_Knight (635373) | about 9 years ago | (#13029482)

Thats why i haven't baught it yet, am gonna go pirate it eventually thou because looks like they are never gonna change....

Did you know? (5, Funny)

JeiFuRi (888436) | about 9 years ago | (#13029063)

Half Life 2 = 1 whole life

Re:Did you know? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029078)

Yes, and two albums by 50 Cent = 1 dollar.

Re:Did you know? (5, Funny)

mek2600 (677900) | about 9 years ago | (#13029277)

You still overpayed.

Re:Did you know? (1)

neonenergy (888041) | about 9 years ago | (#13029238)

which equals the amount of time it took for me to install it of course.

Re:Did you know? (1)

Nasarius (593729) | about 9 years ago | (#13029716)

Or 1/4 left of what you had at the beginning.

Wonderful (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029066)


wow, way to drive traffic to your blog (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029085)

that wasnt even a good read

can the slashvertisements stop now, please?

Pixel Kill has up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029088)

Pixel Kill has thumbtacked up on the bulletin board in the halls of the Internet....

I'll be waiting (-1, Troll)

77Punker (673758) | about 9 years ago | (#13029090)

Seems like I've been waiting HALF of my LIFE to play it! In fact, it's taking FOREVER!

Wait...wrong game, nevermind.

Re:I'll be waiting (1)

JeiFuRi (888436) | about 9 years ago | (#13029101)

ill be wasting my life playing it

In case of Slashdotting (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029091)

Listening to Bill Van Buren talk about Half Life 2 I realised a key reason for its excellence - it shows you the story rather than telling you, just like a good author showing you rather than telling you scene details. it doesn't parade the story in a cut-scene but rather puts you right in the middle of it.

It's little surprise only Valve have really gone down this path properly as it clearly took a lot of work making the "cut-scenes" unbreakable by the player. The powerful scripting system did often allow the designers to create scenes without the assistance of animators or story boards - they just threw together a rough cut with existing animations and rough voice over files (apparently Marc Laidlaw created some great ones, so much so they were tempted to leave in his Father Grigory).

As you may be aware they spent a lot of time getting eyes right - how they focus and even how your eyelids dip when looking down. They also used real people as character references (I wish I had a photo of the slide, it was really interesting to see the comparisons), though they ended up stylising them somewhat as having them too realistic was "just creepy" as Bill put it. They're continuing to move forward in the area of facial animation and have even hired Bay Raitt who worked on Gollum's facial animation.

Their character animation system is particularly impressive too - at one point Eli Vance was running, looking to the side and typing (!), all blended in real time. To create a scripted scene you kind of layer things (an eyebrow movement here, a wave there and so on) and adjust line graphs to alter movement intensity. It's all extremely intuitive looking stuff so the designers can more easily get on with making the game.

One thing I didn't realise was that Half life 2 rewarded the inquisitive - players who looked around not only saw newspaper clippings and photos but in doing so triggered revealing comments from other characters.

Someone pointed out how much time was spent alone in Half Life 2. Bill replied that they were aware of this and were working on keeping NPCs with you for more of the time in Aftermath. This brings with it the problem of ever-present characters becoming irritating, but they're aware of that and working to address it so they're helpful rather than annoying.

One final interesting detail - they narrowed the field of view from 90 to 75 in Half Life 2, narrowing it even further to around 50 during the final cut-scene with Breen.

It's pretty evident just how much attention Valve pay to details and how eager they are to keep moving forward with new ideas. Aftermath can't come soon enough.

Re:In case of Slashdotting (1)

Banner (17158) | about 9 years ago | (#13029117)

I tried to play this game. The install was painful, it took hours, and in the end Valve's suggested video upgrade prevented the game from ever running on my system. Which I then had to format and reinstall.

All in all, what good is a game if you can't play it? At 50 bucks, and 4 to 5 hours just to install it, this game is a serious waste of money. And poorly designed to boot.

Re:In case of Slashdotting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029135)

Yeah, because everyone knows you only need one data point to judge something!

Re:In case of Slashdotting (5, Insightful)

Alpha Soixante-Neuf (813971) | about 9 years ago | (#13029155)

All in all, what good is a game if you can't play it? At 50 bucks, and 4 to 5 hours just to install it, this game is a serious waste of money. And poorly designed to boot. The game was made for newer retail technology. If you don't want to pay for the newest gadgets then don't expect to play the newest games without complications. You can play it in two years and it'll still be a great game then. I don't have a super great computer but it didn't take 4 or 5 hours to load and played just fine (albeit at a fairly low res to keep the frame rate up, but that's exactly what I was expecting).

Re:In case of Slashdotting (0, Troll)

Banner (17158) | about 9 years ago | (#13029177)

I do have the latest and greatest. It still took forever to install, then it had to download like TWO GIGS of updates (yeah where I'm currently living SBC won't give me a great connection), then on top of that they game tells me I need to load the latest video driver. If I -hadn't- loaded the driver the game would have played fine, but with the latest driver the game hosed itself.

So I had to go install my backup and then -reinstall- the entire fucking thing all over again. That's like 6 hours right there and I haven't even started to play the game yet.

Woo Fucking Hoo. It's coded like a piece of shit. And you can quote me on that.

Re:In case of Slashdotting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029215)

<Shrug> Worked fine for me and 2 million other guys.

Re:In case of Slashdotting (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 9 years ago | (#13029225)

why didn't you just uninstall your video driver and install the old one again?

Re:In case of Slashdotting (2, Informative)

Jackmn (895532) | about 9 years ago | (#13029412)

The game does not require you use the latest drivers.

It is merely recommended you upgrade drivers when you try to play with older ones.

I know this because I've played HL2 with older drivers, seen the warning, and managed to play anyways.

I've never heard any stories of HL2 hosing the system or itself. Odds are something is up with your machine.

Re:In case of Slashdotting (1)

godders (517242) | about 9 years ago | (#13029561)

You SHOULD have the latest drivers anyway, if they won't install or they break your system then it's either your fault, or the card manufacturer's fault. It most certainly is not the game's fault. It worked perfectly for me, took a little while to install, but then it's a lot of data to copy (make sure your dvdrom is set up properly and you have the relevant drivers installed and *up to date* for the interface if it's that slow)

Re:In case of Slashdotting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029168)

Wow, I thought the game was really interesting. Lots of exploring and tons of details. The install was ok, and my system was under spec and still ran fine. Why would you need to format your computer for an uninstall? Perhaps the reason it didn't work for you because you didn't read the directions correctly?.
Anyway my only problems with the games was the ending and the time when Valve's servers were down... nothing a crack didn't temporarily fix though. ... I love coding..

Re:In case of Slashdotting (1)

64nDh1 (872430) | about 9 years ago | (#13029265)

Please release your masterful crack that unlocks the better ending sequence to the rest of the slashdotting public.


Re:In case of Slashdotting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029239)

"I tried to play this game. The install was painful, it took hours, and in the end Valve's suggested video upgrade prevented the game from ever running on my system."

Funny, I installed it in less than a few minutes.

You didn't miss much though, the game sucked and it was just another crappy FPS barely any different from any of the other 10,000 FPS games out. Until they come out with something truly revolutionary the FPS genre is just beating a dead horse. No matter how much you improve the graphics it still doesn't stop you from getting bored within the first 10 minutes (Doom 3 is another perfect example of this). Who really needs the graphics to be better than Half Life 2 or Counterstrike: Source anyways. If you really need to see the violence in a greater level of detail you have something seriously wrong with you.

Re:In case of Slashdotting (2, Interesting)

64nDh1 (872430) | about 9 years ago | (#13029245)

Seriously, nobody better tell you about Doom 3, a game that was designed for optimal performance on near future technology that was not yet available to the consumer/gaming enthusiast when it was released.

The game [Half Life 2] is not poorly designed, quite the opposite IMHO. It's good, but not my ideal game. I still prefer Quake 3 for shit and giggles for example. But there's nothing to stop you reselling your copy to someone who can play it, so your money hasn't been completely wasted. Head to e-bay and see if you can recoup $20.

I will sympathise with the installation woes. If you don't play Half Life 2 often enough then waiting an hour to load the game because the updates are being downloaded is a royal PITA, but thems the breaks.

I wholeheartedly disagree with the lock-in to 'content providers' (read Steam activation on installation to play the offline 1 player mode, read the glitch that means I can't play the game without it first checking with a server that I am on an authorised pc or have a Steam account or whatever). I recognise software purchases are essentially a figment of a lot of consumers' imaginations, but extending the concept of licensing software instead of buying software to require a greenlight from Valve central for me to blow off some vapour from boiled water is pushing it a bit for my liking.

Re:In case of Slashdotting (4, Interesting)

Mac Degger (576336) | about 9 years ago | (#13029353)

Such a low /.id and so little luck with a simple gfx driver install/uninstall?

Frankly, I'm stunned. First off, the only reason your install could possibly have taken so long was if you paid Valve on the day of release and tried to autheticate and download whilst half the world was doing the same. A single day of waiting (or buying retail, which meant a disk install which /can not/ take hours) and you'd've had no problems.
And for all the idiots shouting 'yeah well, Valve should have expected that! I( had to wait hours on release day!': you should have expected that. Whining about it is like me whouting 'I wanna million dollars'; it just work that way in the real world.

As for the reformat...I've gone through a couple of vidcards and numerous drivers...never have I had to re-format and I've never heard of anyone who had to do that for gfx drivers (well, maybe in winME, but that's winME :)).

Re:In case of Slashdotting (5, Informative)

Will Sargent (2751) | about 9 years ago | (#13029547)

A low slashdot id is not a sign of intelligence.

Your slashdot id (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029624)

Shut the fuck up 500k.

Re:In case of Slashdotting (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | about 9 years ago | (#13029522)

I voted with my wallet. Unless they come out with a non-steam version, I won't buy it. Hell, at least Battlefield 2 will let you play on a lan or single player without authenticating back to the mothership.

Re:In case of Slashdotting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029674)

"I voted with my wallet. Unless they come out with a non-steam version, I won't buy it. Hell, at least Battlefield 2 will let you play on a lan or single player without authenticating back to the mothership."

Yes because having it connect to steam once the first time it runs is such a pain for someone who bought the game..... Get a grip the only people this causes a problem for are pirates and imbeciles that are looking for something to complain about.

Re:In case of Slashdotting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029708)

"the only people this causes a problem for are pirates and imbeciles that are looking for something to complain about" ...and people who want to *own* a game they paid for, not just rent it until Valve gets cranky, or goes out of business, or decides to shut down all HL2 mods to "encourage" everyone to upgrade to Counterstrike 5.

Actually, overall the game sucks (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029093)

The first several hours of game play are incredibly lame. First you have the 5 Cd's you have to put in your computer. Then when you START the game you have to wait an hour for it to do something. What, no one knows, but you just get to watch dialogue box after dialogue box.

The reason?

Valve is making fun of you for being such an ass as to buy their game. Then of course there is the TSR they put on your system that is always connected, whether you are playing or not. If MS did this, there's be lawsuits!!

And then, when you finally get past all that crap, the game tells you to download the latest Nvidia driver, WHICH DOESN'T SUPPORT THE GAME AND CAUSES IT TO CRASH INSTANTLY!

Glad I didn't buy this game and borrowed a friend's to check it out first. I not only will NOT buy it now, but I'll -never- buy anything from these twits again,

(Anon because I know all the Half Life slaves will mod this troll! But be advised, don't buy this game, you'll just end up formating and reinstalling)

Re:Actually, overall the game sucks (2, Insightful)

Decessus (835669) | about 9 years ago | (#13029132)

It seems like your major beef with the game has more to do with the installation process then the actual game. I don't know how far you actually got into the game, but perhaps checking out the Xbox version will be a lot more user friendly for you. ( If you own an Xbox that is. )

Re:Actually, overall the game sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029293)

Wow, it's been forever since I've heard the term "TSR" used (which by the way is used incorrectly here, since a TSR refers to a DOS program). I've even had to look up what the acronym means. I was thinking along the lines of "Time sharing ..." rather than "terminate and stay resident".

How the time flies. I recall those days when I've mucked with Turbo Pascal, modified the interrupt vector table to keep TSR programs running, etc. It's been over ten years.

Field of view (4, Interesting)

The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) | about 9 years ago | (#13029116)

One final interesting detail - they narrowed the field of view from 90 to 75 in Half Life 2, narrowing it even further to around 50 during the final cut-scene with Breen.

Anyone know why this would be? For artistic purposes? I don't play first person shooters, so I don't really understand why someone would want this...

Re:Field of view (5, Informative)

the_weasel (323320) | about 9 years ago | (#13029154)

My guess (without having played) is for dramatic impact. A shorter field of view means you are more focused on what is in front of you. You have to turn more often, and you get paranoid about your surroundings.

Take it too far and its just annoying - done right, and its super scary.

The scariest scenes in Alien (and other horror movies) take place in tight narrow hallways and crawlspaces for some of the same reasons.

Re:Field of view (2, Informative)

SteevR (612047) | about 9 years ago | (#13029199)

The first thing that comes to mind as a graphics programmer is that since there are theoretically fewer polygons/shader effects/character models/etc. onscreen at any time, one can spend more time rendering those things, thus making them look nicer; or render it at the original detail at a higher framerate. As poor as the engine performs in outdoor areas, this might have been a technical decision. What if it wasn't? The wannabe game designer in me puzzles. For one, it allows you to more easily target specific parts of an enemy because the enemy occupies more pixels on the screen... on the other hand, the player has a less complete view of the surroundings vs. a wider view aspect. Players these days, with optical mice and whatnot, do not suffer not being able to aim quickly due to technical reasons (poor framerate, sticky mouse ball) anymore though. The only motive I can puzzle out is that it may make interacting with the NPCs (Alex) more realistic- when we are talking to someone in the real world, eye contact and all, we are truly only looking at the area around their face. Going to a narrower perspective could possibly increase immersion in this way, by providing this focus.

Re:Field of view (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 9 years ago | (#13029332)

TBH I didn't even notice it. It wasn't a HUGE thing to me. I think it was "cut down" though to show the final events. Theres a lot of effects and then a huge explosion (followed by more effects).

Maybe it's so they didn't render so much sky box needlessly?

Re:Field of view (1)

DigitalBubblebath (708955) | about 9 years ago | (#13029382)

Narrowing the field of view creates a zoom-in effect. There may have been technical limitations (polygon count, sfx etc), but it could have been to create a sense of claustrophobia.

Re:Field of view (1)

leathered (780018) | about 9 years ago | (#13029385)

It's because a fov of 90 made all the models look really thin, Gabe Newell got jealous and demanded it be set to 75.

Re:Field of view (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029474)

I've read somewhere that the normal 90 deg fov would distort the models too much for the designers to like it. Just try switching to fov 120 or more sometime and look at all the lovely distortion.

Also when in the boat or buggy the fov is back to 90 again to lessen motion sickness.

Too Much Realism? (5, Interesting)

Lemurmania (846869) | about 9 years ago | (#13029127)

In the article, they recound how they had to tone down some of the facial tech since too much realism was "just creepy." I would be fascinated to see it in action. How, exactly, does it creep the gamer out?

Would I hesitate to kill a combine soldier if the face was too real? Would I develop a pathetic geek crush on Alex? I'm really curious about this. And I want to see this level of realism that they deemed to be too much.

Re:Too Much Realism? (4, Interesting)

aliens (90441) | about 9 years ago | (#13029193)

I think people had the same reaction to such animated movies as Polar Express. The animation was very close to looking real, but there is always something lacking in the models.

I've heard multiple people complain/mention this, best way I've heard it described is that they seemed like zombies.

I guess there is something in the mind that no matter how realistic something looks the fact that you know there isn't a heart inside the thing invokes something of a disgust. Making it harder to form attachments to the character and ruiing the story.

It should be an interesting study for some post-grad.

Oh, and I am sure there are plenty of geeks with a
crush on Alex regardless.

Re:Too Much Realism? (5, Informative)

Hockney Twang (769594) | about 9 years ago | (#13029250)

Have a look at this [] rather in-depth analysis of the topic you mention. Not certain if the author is a post-grad or not. I'm also fairly certain that this is only one of a growing body of works on the subject.

Re:Too Much Realism? (1)

Decessus (835669) | about 9 years ago | (#13029274)

Isn't there a theory about this? I tried to do a quick Google, but I don't even have the slightest idea what it is called. I just remember it has something to do with a valley. Their comes a point where the closer a robot or artifical life comes to looking like a human, the more put off real humans are to it. I'm sure someone else knows what I'm refering to.

Re:Too Much Realism? (4, Interesting)

Smiffa2001 (823436) | about 9 years ago | (#13029312)

I've often pondered this one too, and noticed from friends and relatives watching characters like Gollum from LOTR, there's more of an 'impressed' reaction. It's something I think I've noticed in most CG-based non-human characters, the less human they look, the more 'accepted' they seem to be. With all the sub-surface scattering and all that Weta used, Gollum's relative different to 'human standard' meant that they probably got the balance right there. After all, objects like vehicles, landscapes and stuff seem easy to be able to pull the wool over peoples eyes. Other little effects I've seen are the CG characters affecting the 'camera' more, with the best example recently in War of the Worlds where at some point a tripod's gushing fluid everywhere and it splatters the 'camera'. Nice touch I thought.
Oh, and I am sure there are plenty of geeks with a crush on Alex regardless.

Sorry about that...

Re:Too Much Realism? (1)

Peter Cooper (660482) | about 9 years ago | (#13029357)

You might want to Google on this, but there was either a major story in Wired or on Slashdot about this phenomenon. Supposedly people are more forgiving when the virtual character is less perfect, and extremely damning when they're a lot more "realistic". It demonstrated how imperfections are more noticeable when the representation is trying to be 100% realistic, yet the imperfections are not noticed when the representation has more flaws.

Re:Too Much Realism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029399)

Hey you jealous bastard, my girlfriend's name is spelled Alyx.

Re:Too Much Realism? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | about 9 years ago | (#13029472)

I don't think it's because the viewer knows they're watching an animation and thus rejects it, but because there are entirely too many details that we do notice, without noticing that we notice. Just look at something as simple as a finger. As you curl your finger, notice how the skin only stretches slightly at first? Notice how it stretched the most in the middle, and how it widens or fattens slightly? How the skin gets lighter and slightly more translucent at the joints? The little wrinkles, and the changing texture of the skin along the length of the finger? How you tend to curl the ends of your fingers first? How you can't easily curl one finger without moving the one next to it? And that's just one little part of an entire person. There are a mind-boggling amount of minute details that we may not notice, but when they're missing our minds say, "Something's not quite right." A stance might be a little off, or center of gravity, or friction, or movement might be too fluid, or too jerky, or anything. The tiniest details will ruin the illusion.

Re:Too Much Realism? (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 9 years ago | (#13029538)

They need to unfreeze Disney and talk to him about him animatronics. Sure, they look like terrible 70's robots, but their facial movements, mouth, eyes, cheeks, ears, the works looked completely human. Ive often wondered if they had real people with eletrodes hooked up to their face to get them looking that good... and if they did, why can't we do that 10000000x better now?

Re:Too Much Realism? (1)

droptone (798379) | about 9 years ago | (#13029688)

They need to unfreeze Disney

You'd think Slashdot would be free of such urban legends, but then again it is Slashdot. Snopes to the Rescue! []

Re:Too Much Realism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029247)

Google the "uncanny valley"

Re:Too Much Realism? (2, Interesting)

Bane1998 (894327) | about 9 years ago | (#13029256)

They tone it down for the suspension of disbelief factor. If the characters are extremely human-like, then small little artifacts look strange. Imagine walking down the street and seeing someone in real life have a small glitch like a framerate drop or something. You would be very creeped out. Not in a good way, in a bad way. You would question if you were in the Matrix or something. It would be disturbing.

When you see glitches like this in a game, it doesn't interrupt your suspension of disbelief as much if the characters still look like game characters rather than real people.

The more 'real' your characters/environment is, the stricter it has to be perfect. Imagine any human you've ever seen animated. It's easy to see flaws. We are intimate with how humans move and behave. We see it every day (well, unless you're a slashdotter). Now imagine an out-of-this world monster. You can't see flaws as easily, we don't have pre-conceived notions of how these other beings would move or behave, so we are more open to nuances.

Hope that sheds some light.


Re:Too Much Realism? (4, Interesting)

markh1967 (315861) | about 9 years ago | (#13029272)

This is a problem in robotics known as the uncanny valley [] .

Basically, people have no problems with robots that are reasonably similar to real people but tend to react negatively to robots that are very realistic but subtly wrong.

Re:Too Much Realism? (4, Insightful)

Have Blue (616) | about 9 years ago | (#13029309)

It's called the "uncanny valley". As depictions of humans get more and more human, they look better and better- but only up to a point. Between "kinda like a human" and "exactly like a human" there's a space where people start to get creeped out. The depiction resembles a human corpse more than it does a real live human, since it's missing subtle things like eye movements or breathing. You wouldn't develop crushes or sympathies but you'd be uncomfortable while playing the game, which is not something Valve wanted.

The Polar Express is a good example, as someone else said. So is the Final Fantasy movie. This is the reason Pixar, for example, does not try to create photorealistic humans even though their artists are quite capable of it.

Re:Too Much Realism? (1)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | about 9 years ago | (#13029432)

This makes me wonder if there is a way to use that subtle, overly-real creepiness as a game device. For instance, there might be a Bladerunner-type scenario in which the Replicant is a little "too" perfect. The game engine might model the rest of the world in acceptably-flawed mode, but the Replicant would be turned up to 11 as a turn of the screws to the player's psyche.

Formula For Success (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029128)

As far as I can tell HalfLife 2 formula for success went something like this:

1) Strip out almost anything that made the first HL so good

2) Crank up the texture rez and add shaders

3) Bolt on a third party physics engine

At least it wasn't as bad as that piece of crap Halo 2. I have to wonder just how much cash MS had to hand out to get that turd the high reviews it got.

I certainly look forward to HL 3 though, and wouldn't touch another Halo. Yeech.

Re:Formula For Success (1)

AlexMax2742 (602517) | about 9 years ago | (#13029502)

At least it wasn't as bad as that piece of crap Halo 2. I have to wonder just how much cash MS had to hand out to get that turd the high reviews it got.

And those tens of thousands (arguably hundreds or thousands) of people that still play Halo 2, almost a year after release online. It must just be ten thousand clones of Bill Gates. Or casual gamers, becasue everyone knows PC's are the only way to enjoy FPS's.

Or you could have actually been a good game that a few people just happen to not like for some reason.

Re:Formula For Success (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029578)

"And those tens of thousands..."

What the fuck else are they going to play on the xbox??


Sorry Halo, especially Halo 2, is a joke in the fps community.

Re:Formula For Success (2, Insightful)

godders (517242) | about 9 years ago | (#13029633)

halo 2's single player mode was just a multiplayer game with a vague storyline. They put in level after level that consisted of nothing more than running down identical corridors shooting at various things. I'm sure the counterstrike players loved it, and I'm sure it makes a fine multiplayer game. But it's a shit single player game. HL2, on the other hand, I absolutely loved. some of the outside scenes are amazingly realistic and fun to play. Riding the airboat down the canal system and finding random deserted buildings with huge landscapes was great.

Whatever (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029138)

Is it just me our was that article about as informative as something not very informative?

More interesting to most slashdoterd would be the recent completion of the Alyx nude skin. You can get that here ays=0&postorder=asc&start=2385 [] .

Re:Whatever (1)

JeiFuRi (888436) | about 9 years ago | (#13029166)

I agreee...even your comment is more informative than the article.

Re:Whatever (4, Informative)

toddestan (632714) | about 9 years ago | (#13029331)

Since this thread is otherwise worthless without pics, here are some I found in the forum from the parent's link:
(By the way, Captain Obvious says, "Not work safe!")

One []
Two []
Three []
Four []
Five []
Six []
Seven []
Eight []

Re:Whatever (2, Funny)

apoc06 (853263) | about 9 years ago | (#13029611)

this got modded up to four? what is the slashdot world coming to?

anyways, am i the only one highly disturbed by nude digital characters in white socks? nudity i can handle, but the socks just kills it for me.

guess the socks were too hard for the modding community, at least they got the important parts right, huh?

I think I speak for all of us when I say.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029632)


Wonder if there will be bargain bin... (2, Interesting)

(H)elix1 (231155) | about 9 years ago | (#13029140)

Valve attempted to change things by setting up direct download rather than buying from the shelf. Interesting as it changes delivery, but there was no compelling reason to buy it on-line once it hit the shelves. (Compelling to me would have been a couple bucks savings) Starting to see some of the retail box versions sold off in the bargain bin, but with the expansion set probably getting positioned as a steam delivered game - I may never see it. I'm not holding my breath for a $4.99 version at Office Max in a couple years.

Pim Leeft! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029182)

Pim for president!!

How about the... (5, Interesting)

BAILOPAN (694545) | about 9 years ago | (#13029186)

... state of current Half-Life development?

While Valve has always liked people developing closed source mods for their messy, buggy, and poorly organized SDKs, they've been downright evil with mod-independent development for Half-Life 2. (Note: I'm talking about engine plugins, not entire mods).

With Half-Life 1, the engine was very "open" in terms of API and functionality, and because of this, tons and tons of mini-mods sprung up for popular games like Counter-Strike. In fact, you could attribute the massive success and continuing livlihood of Half-Life 1 to this.

However, Valve's new stance with HL2 is that mods shouldn't be, well, moddable. They've threatened developers and locked out hugely potential functionality. The level of PR Valve does to ease this over makes my blood boil. They've been uncooperative, rarely listen to the community, and let _known bugs_ go unfixed for months and months, even after numerous release cycles. Read the hlcoders mailing list sometime. You'll hear Valve employees like Alfred Reynolds say that mod developers are "hackers holding Valve hostages", with regards to trivial things like printing to the screen. I'm not kidding.

It's not fun. Before Half-Life 2, I was a Valve fanboy. Now I can't stand them. I've had Doom 3 mod developers brag to me about the level of control they have with the Doom 3 SDK. Maybe I'm programming for the wrong game.

Also, with regards to the expansion... they've released one screenshot, and an onlooker realized it was actually a screenshot from HL2 Single Player. Oops. I guess we can file the expansion with VAC2 and DoD:S, which will be released on the Tweltfh of Never.

My name is Bail, and I'm a distressed Half-Life modder. *sits back down*

Re:How about the... (-1, Troll)

ViciousVII (898461) | about 9 years ago | (#13029275)

Summary of above: OMG WTF VALVE WON"T DO AS I SAY WHY whywhyWhY whY!1!!11111 AnD tHey WoN'T fIx BuGs InSTNATLY LIKE MICROSOFT!!11 they bad.

Re:How about the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029323)

Please go and kill yourself.

Re:How about the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029469)

Summary of above: OMG I SUCK VALVE'S COCK! La la la, lameness filter.

Valve treats their fans badly (2, Insightful)

Danathar (267989) | about 9 years ago | (#13029328)

I've read all the excuses about why valve acts the way it does about the state of their games. Frankly its a load of crap.

Other companies have had their development of games WIDE open practically like Never Winter Nights and the fans appreciated it MUCH more.

Everytime Valve talks it smells like a snow job with lies. Take the current development of Day of Defeat. They SOLD that game to people as part of the Half-Life 2 package implying that it would be out "soon" almost a year ago and it still is'nt out. I don't mind waiting, in fact if they would of said something like "we really have'nt put many resources into it because we've been working on half-life 2. Don't look for it anytime within the 6-10 months" I would of said "OK", respected them a bit more and patiently waited. Only recently did they talk about it once the Public Beta came out.

Now it's just a game and I don't get real worked up over these things (sounds like it though). But this arrogant attitude they have sucks.

Re:Valve treats their fans badly (2, Insightful)

rpozz (249652) | about 9 years ago | (#13029356)

With the blatent lying about the release dates of HL2 and DoD, the stuttering bug which went unfixed for months, and Steam being an annoying bastard for a single-player game, it's absolutely amazing that they manage to still sell so many copies. They are probably the most badly-behaved company in the games industry, with the possible exception of EA.

Re:How about the... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 9 years ago | (#13029342)

It's amazing to me that people still do this stuff. Yeah, hacking on games is fun, but why do most modders keep their software proprietary? Why do they find it "cool" to hack on proprietary games but not on open source games? It's like they enjoy being enslaved to this corporations that see them as just another one of their "community assets".

Re:How about the... (2, Interesting)

Mac Degger (576336) | about 9 years ago | (#13029389)

It's 'cause OS game engines just aren't there yet in terms of functionality and user friendlyness. Not that modding is in any way userfriendly, and not that engines like OGRE aren't impressive...but making an actual game with OS engine is much more time consuming than laying a mod on an existing game (engine).

Plus there's the installed base. HL2, NWN and Doom have large install bases, so more people will play their mod.

Re:How about the... (2, Interesting)

BAILOPAN (694545) | about 9 years ago | (#13029421)

You hit the nail on the head. Commercial games are usually far more functional and better looking, simply because they have to be to stay competetive. And if you develop on a commercial game, you automatically have a userbase of potentially tens of thousands of users.

Not to say OSS is bad (my mods are open source), but I don't think there is an F/OSS engine or game that can compare with the top FPSes on the market.


Re:How about the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029548)

" It's 'cause OS game engines just aren't there yet in terms of functionality and user friendlyness."

There is no 'there'

Shipping a gold master game is more work than anyone who writes some open source game engine can imagine.

Having tested almost every major open source game engine and having been exposed to more commercial game engines then probably 95% of real world game developers out there, I can honestly saw that, despite the on the surface similarities, every open source engine I've personally been exposed to I would estimate at roughly %10 the way to a what would be a GM shrinkwrapped game.

Keeping up with commercial game development is a moving target that open source programmers are unlikely to ever be able to mach. And that is really just talking about your standard home computer with a AGP GPU based games. The stuff us commercial developers are doing with the PS3/Cell stuff is really a quantum leap beyond anything game developers have ever done before. All the people claiming the PS3 is just using pre-rendered movie demos are going to be in for a shock.

Without access to modern hardware like Cell, open source game developers are going to be left far behind. Much farther behind than they are now over the next few years, until home computer game programmers get their hands on Cell based systems. Intel and AMD really have nothing to compete with Cell on the horizon.

Re:How about the... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 9 years ago | (#13029596)

Blah. You're just another dude forecasting the end of PC gaming. It's never gunna happen.

Re:How about the... (2, Insightful)

neumayr (819083) | about 9 years ago | (#13029464)

I guess when people are impressed and maybe inspired by the actual game, they're more likely to invest time in learning how the engine works, to build upon something they feel they already know somewhat.

As opposed to some random game with nothing to show but a vague description, an alpha that won't run and some screenshots off of the lead developer's machine.

Ignorant person wants to know: (2, Informative)

dkellis (795881) | about 9 years ago | (#13029216)

The article mentions that HL2 "shows you the story rather than telling you", and then says:

It's little surprise only Valve have really gone down this path properly as it clearly took a lot of work making the "cut-scenes" unbreakable by the player.

Out of interest, is this true? I'm not entirely experienced with such games in particular, but I felt that at least the System Shock series (off the top of my head; I haven't finished the Marathon series yet, so I'm not sure about those) also did it "properly". Is the article-writer exaggerating a mite?

Re:Ignorant person wants to know: (2, Insightful)

Lisandro (799651) | about 9 years ago | (#13029286)

Not only properly, better. To this day, System Shock 2 is the most inmersive FPS ever made - long steps ahead of HL2 if you ask me.

Re:Ignorant person wants to know: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029720)

System Shock did indeed do a very good job of delivering the story to players. For the most part it was not told in cutscenes, but rather given to the player piece by piece as they explored the world. However, it wasn't nearly as interactive a delivery as Half-Life. In Half-Life you can frequently walk in and around the scenes as the story is being delivered...almost like an interactive cutscene. System Shock mostly did it through email and things like that - less interactive.

Marathon, in my opinion, has one of the best continuing storylines of any FPS game - ever. But, again, Marathon delivers all its story through computer terminals. It isn't terribly interactive.

Another game with a great storyline and good delivery is Clive Barker's Undying. For the most part the story is delivered very similarly to Half-Life, with largely interactive cutscenes. However, several of the more dramatic moments fall back on oldschool static cutscenes that you just sit back and watch.

I certainly don't think I would call Half-Life the first of its kind... But it certainly did things a lot better than many other games have.

shIT? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029268)

Re:shIT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029483)

Do you trolls even realize that all there is at that link is a pumpkin?

What I liked most about the game's story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029318)

is that the protagonist, Dr. Gordon Freeman, is a theoretical physicist [] . Even geeks can kick ass, whether it be with MP7's or plasma pulse rifles.

(Unfortunately, the Wikipedia entry does not mention Dr. Freeman's work at the University of Innsbruck.)

Half Life 2 and the Rights of Users (5, Insightful)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | about 9 years ago | (#13029401)

My big beef with Half Life is the restrictive level of its liscence. I realize its just game, but I hate the dangerous precident it states in showing how easily the entertainment industry can control us. They can actually convince us to pay money to take our digital rights away from us, and the population will not resist.

At a time when we are facing an orwellian future of DRM, the cost of our digital civil rights is: Playing a game.

This is tragic in nature. Its a betrayal of free thinking principals by the population itself. The popuation of people who were willing to - without a second thought, buy this game when the full knowlege of what buying and installing this game meant as far as DRM goes is an unpardonable crime.

Half Life 2 proved that the public was willing to suffer major digital freedom loss to play a game. The evidence was right in front of the viewing public and the consumer ego mass still made the bad choice anyway.

I didn't buy HL2. (Don't Run Windows) but the fact that I made the choice not to really doesn't matter. It was the fact that the majority of computer using consumers who will buy freedom destroying software did so.

The choice that the consuming public makes affects everyone by what is availible in the future. I'm sure HL2 is an excellent quality game, but the terms of the game are simply cruel and malicious.

Again, its not about whether or not *I* choose to buy the game or not, its about what the majority of the consuming public was willing to do, and it is with the consuming public the fault lies.

There was a choice. They made the wrong choice and we will all pay for that choice years down the road.

Re:Half Life 2 and the Rights of Users (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029568)

Just because the choice of the public doesn't match yours does not give you a right to judge it as a "wrong" choice like some kind of consumer overlord. For my needs, I had no problems, so I bought it. Like most people, if I buy a game for my PC I'm simply looking to play it on the PC I have it on, and do nothing else fancy with it.

The marketplace will decide what's acceptable, not an individual person or fringe group.

Re:Half Life 2 and the Rights of Users (0, Troll)

DoktorSeven (628331) | about 9 years ago | (#13029615)

You do know that public opinion can be horribly wrong, correct?

Just because a buttload of Americans (and those are some pretty big butts)* decide that it's good that their privacy and freedoms are being taken away does not make it right.

And what is worse is that people will defend this position by going to the "Everybody Does It!" argument, and ridicule those who don't agree.

Hell** in a handbasket.

* Disclaimer: I'm an American, and my butt is huge
** Disclaimer 2: I'm an atheist, and don't believe in Hell.

Re:Half Life 2 and the Rights of Users (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029676)

Same cowaard here, no way I'm logging in from work.

Anyway, it's just your opinion that it's a wrong decision. The main problem I see is that they don't realize they're just finding their own opinion as well. I think it's fine, you don't. Both are opinions and neither one can be inherently right due to the nature of an opinion. The real world will sort out which one is the one society will take.

If you don't like it, but other people don't care, this does not make them stupid or anything of the sort. It means they disagree with you, nothing more.

Half Life 2 wasn't that fantastic (1)

mikapc (664262) | about 9 years ago | (#13029410)

Seriously, Half Life 2 was good but it wasn't at all revolutionary like half life 1. The gameplay was very linear, the ai wasn't all that great, and I didn't like the weapons all that much with the exception of the gravity gun. I would rate Half Life 2 as a great game, but I would also rate Far Cry as a great game.

moD down (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029447)

a dead ma8 Walking.

Why do they hate us so? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029545)

Why do ppl make posts like this?

SLASHDOTERS SUCK! Posted by: Jeff | July 11, 2005 12:44 AM

god, i fucking hate slashdot panzies. someone should seriously shoot some of those bitches Posted by: aSsHoLe | July 11, 2005 12:54 AM

SLASHDOTDASHDOTDASHDOTCOM. DOT COM. DOT COM!! Posted by: FatboySlim | July 11, 2005 12:55 AM

SLASHDOT IS A PIECE OF SHIT, I AGREE. maybe i'll send that stupid roland piquipaille a mail bomb. or maybe that stupid fag assed clown that calls himself commander taco. fuck that. Posted by: sassy | July 11, 2005 01:14 AM

Why, oh why?

Fantastic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13029559)

It's an interesting insight into some of the design decisions that resulted in such a fantastic game

This is Slashdot, it can't possibly be a "fantastic" game if it's only for Windows!
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