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Sit back and watch two decades of video game graphics flash before your eyes. YouTube user drloser333 has uploaded a video from French site NoFrag that unfurls the graphics of more than a dozen first-person shooters, from 1992's Wolfenstein 3 to 2011's Battlefield 3.
Did the FPS get better-looking? They have at least become way more realistic, But maybe you're more of a fan of older, more abstract styles?
Graphic evolution of First Person Shooters: 1992-2012 [YouTube, uploaded by drloser333; more details (in French) at NoFrag.com]
There's no company quite like Valve. Super successful and with an organisation some would call crazy, there's also no company quite as interesting. So hearing about how Valve hires, and fires people, is far more educational than it would be for just about any other video game company.
Writing on Gamasutra, the company's economist Yanis Varoufakis has lifted the lid on some of the company's employment policies, which should be useful for anyone hoping to one day work there (and find out what the hell is going on with Half-Life 3).
When it comes to hiring, they don't usually have interviews. They identify needs/vacancies, form teams, come to a consensus on the best available people out there then go head-hunting.
As for firing—which took place recently, and had people wondering—seems it mostly takes place not with under-performing employees, but those who may not fit with the company's famous "boss free" structure.
That's OK! Perfectly understandable. He's a talented guy, and the prospect of seeing Gordon Freeman on the silver screen is enough to get most people smiling.
But reading the news, I couldn't help but feel that Abrams and Newell had shown their hands too early. And in doing so, they're setting up a whole lot of people for a whole lot of heartache.
If you actually look at what Abrams and Newell said, it's a relationship at the earliest, most tentative stages. A game idea they'd like to work on, a pair of movie projects that Abrams is "going to be bringing on a writer" for. That's it. No contracts, no titles, no press releases.
As we've outlined before, the chances of a project advancing from this early stage to the silver screen are remote. At best. Hell, even most movies that get directors and writers officially attached, and studio backing, fail to materialise.
And that's before you even take into account how busy Abrams is going to be over the next decade doing, oh, Star Wars and Star Trek.
That's Hollywood for you. Budget realities and schedule conflict are bad news for the majority of aspiring projects. But it's also how the video game business works. There are way more games that are killed off in their early stages than ever reach the market. We see, on an almost monthly basis, how games with large staffs, completed assets and trailers are canned; if you could see the bodies of the number of projects terminated while still on the drawing board, it would make you weep.
So Abrams and Valve boss Gabe Newell coming out and "announcing" both projects so early is an odd move. Maybe they're trying to drum up interest/support amongst fans. Maybe they're trying to show movie studios there's a market here. Whatever the reason, the mere fact they spoke about them (and yes, I know Abrams dropped caveats like "it's as real as anything in Hollywood ever gets") is setting a lot of people up for disappointment if, as the laws of probability would have it, either one or both projects fails to ever materialise.
Who knows, though. In the year 2027, as we mourn the death of home consoles and play games in our flying cars, we may also look back on how awesome JJ Abrams' Half Portal Trek Wars was on the St3ambox, and only regret slightly how much money we spent on the 4K 3D home version of the Half-Life movie trilogy.
If after all this salt you still want to dream about that future, go ahead. I just don't see it happening.
Sorry if you see this as pissing on your parade. I'm not trying to hurt you in the short-term. I'm just trying to help your poor heart out in the long-term! It's hard enough waiting for Half-Life 3 as it is. Adding more Valve projects to the watchlist might just be too much to bear.
You might remember "Enter The Freeman," a very cool short Half-Life film we featured a few months ago.
The fan-film's creators are crowd-funding $75,000 to turn it into a whole series, which may or may not be welcome news to Valve, considering that CEO Gabe Newell just announced he'd like to make movies with director J.J. Abrams based on Half-Life and Portal.
Still, it sounds cool, and you can read and see more about "The Freeman Chronicles"—which they're hoping will be seven episodes of around six minutes each—on their Indiegogo page.
Appearing with the director J.J. Abrams at D.I.C.E. Summit today, Valve's Gabe Newell said the company would "find out if there's a way we can work with you on a Portal and Half-Life movie."
Polygon reports that things may be a little further along than that. Speaking after the panel, Abrams told Polygon "We are really talking to Valve, we are going to be bringing on a writer, we have a lot of very interesting ideas."
However, "it's as real as as anything in Hollywood ever gets," he added. Which means it could be a sure thing, or could amount to nothing, or could take forever to bring to life. Like, well, Half-Life 3.
Gabe Newell and J.J. Abrams spoke about storytelling in each of their mediums. When the panel ended, this exchange happened:
Abrams: There's an idea we have for a game that we'd like to work with Valve on.
Newell: We're going to find out if there's a way we can work with you on a Portal and Half-Life movie.
And the two men walked off, without any further details. Both creators are renown for keeping secrets, so don't expect any details about these proposed projects anytime soon. But just the very notion of a collaboration between the company behind Half-Life 2 and the man behind Lost is a tantalizing prospect.
It's just... it's just so damn perfect. Especially since it reminds me of my old desktop wallpaper.
Morgan Freeman [GTA Mods]
Gabe Newell, the beloved chief of Valve, has proven many times that he is really kind to fans. So it did not take a long for him to agree to pose for a very special photo this week after giving a talk at the University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs. This photo involves one of those notorious horse head masks, and it proves that Gabe Newell, as ever, is a good sport.
For more on what Newell was talking about at the school, see here. Newell will also be delivering two keynotes at next week's DICE conference in Las Vegas. We'll have full coverage on Kotaku.
Gabe Newell having fun with a fan [YouTube]
The Half-Life 2 Cinematic Mod has been around forever, and in that time has proven fairly divisive. Sure, it adds some lovely effects to the game, but it also makes so many changes that some feel it loses a little of Valve's original vision for City 17 and its surrounding countryside. The "improved" character models are a particular bone of contention.
I could never get past the latter, with almost everyone in the mod looking like a Baywatch reject, but if all you care about are environmental effects and the crusade to make a game that's nearly ten years old look brand new, you might want to watch the new video below and see how far the mod has progressed since its inception back in 2005.
If you can meet its surprisingly hefty specs (at least for the full range of effects, considering the game's age), you can download the mod below.
Gaming Heads, a company that's been making Valve-related merchandise for a few years now, will later this year be brining out this impressive (and huge) Gordon Freeman statue.
Standing 20" tall and available in Q3, the regular edition will sell for $320, while a collector's edition (that comes with an extra weapons, the SMG) will sell for $340.
Gordon Freeman [Gaming Heads]