This Saturday the 28,000 members of this Steam group are planning to play Half-Life 2 together. It's single player, of course, but there's nothing stopping fans from getting together to stroke their chins and nod slowly in mass mutual appreciation for one of the best shooters ever made.
The group hopes that the massive play session will shoot Half-Life 2 up the Steam most-played list and let Valve know how many people are still waiting for Half-Life 2: Episode 3. Valve certainly know this already, and probably receive dozens of emails every day asking "WHERE AM HL3?" but the group hopes to deliver the message in a more appreciative way.
"Instead of focusing efforts in a negative and disrespectful way, we have decided to gain Valve's attention by delivering a basic message: Your oldest and longest running fanbase would like better communication," they say on the Steam group page.
Even if you're not interested in sending Valve a message, any excuse is a good excuse to dip into Half Life 2 again, so why not join in? You can join the Call for Communication to add your weight to their message, or you can boot up and play a little for old times' sake and spend some time with Eli, Alyx and the crew. It's set to kick off at 7PM GMT / 11AM PST this Saturday. Thanks to Brett and Smash for the heads up.
Even though Lego Lord of the Rings has been announced, we reckon they’re fast running out of franchises to render in acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. Lego James Bond is the one we always mention when we see the Traveller’s Tales guys, but so far we’ve had no luck convincing them that squashing a plastic version of Sean Bean with a giant satellite array would be a very good thing.
Flickr user Catsy has completely inspired us to believe that a Lego version of Half-Life would be the way for Lego to go. As Kotaku reported, he/she has created a Lego version of Gordon Freeman using stock Lego bits and bobs, equipped with a customised Overwatch Standard Issue Pulse Rifle made from a Lego tommy gun.
As Catsy notes, Freeman needs a little more smoothing and painting. But between his/her and Orrange Stahl’s attempts at Lego Half-Life, we think there’s more than enough to convince the Danish toy giants to create Lego versions of Freeman, Alyx Vance, The G-Man et al. Who knows, maybe they could even make a game of it.
It's just a man in a T-shirt of course, but there's a Half-Life 3 logo on the front of it and a Valve employee inside it.
Art director and executive producer at UberEnt (the team behind Super Monday Night Combat) posted the photo above on Twitter with the message "All I'm saying is I saw this at a local game developer event worn by a Valve employee," sensibly attaching a #ValveTrolling hashtag. He couldn't get any more info out of Valve's man but he confirms that "I did try to smother my face in his chest on the HL3 logo." This did not help.
A long time ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Valve announced that they'd release three follow up episodes for Half-Life 2, allowing them to put out shorter stories at a faster clip. The episodes so far have taken longer and longer to develop, and Episode 2 ended up being longer than most modern shooter campaigns. Years on from Episode 2's release, it would make sense for the next game to ditch the episode format and become Half Life 3. Recently, the Cambridge Student asked Gabe Newell whether he considers releasing Half-Life 2 sequels in an episodic form a mistake. "Not yet," he said.
Valve have repeatedly said that they're still committed to the Half Life series. We'll surely see another one one day. WE JUST WANT TO KNOW HOW IT ENDS.
Half-Life: Origins comes from the same team behind the excellent Beyond Black Mesa short film released earlier this year. It's a short but evocative take on those famous first moments of the original Half-Life, the peaceful train journey before all that nastiness with the interdimensional portal, and the aliens, and the crowbar. It captures the workmanlike atmosphere of Black Mesa quite nicely, though the chap playing Gordon keeps reminding me how perfect Hugh Laurie would be for the role. Infectious Designer should ask him to do their next film, I'm sure he's not busy.
Super Meat Boy completely won us over with its slightly icky take on the good ol’ platform genre. To celebrate its first anniversary, the game has been released as part of a huge bundle on Steam, which includes the original game, Aquaria, Bit.Trip Beat, Bit.Trip Runner, Braid, Gish, Machinarium, VVVVV and World of Goo. You’ll also get the music tracks from Super Meat Boy, Braid, Machinarium, Bit.Trip Beat and Bit.Trip Runner. That’s a whole bunch of indie gaming right there, and it’ll only set you back £17.89 ($28) - or £1.78 per game. Oh yeah, it also includes Half-Life 2, for some reason.
As reported on Gamasutra, a bunch of Valve's writers have been taking part in a roundtable question and answer session at GDC Online.
Read on for some insight from some of the most talented writers in the industry.
Valve might be famous for its use of silent protagonists but according to Mark Laidlaw, one of the writers at Valve, it can be a restrictive on a studio's creativity: "Now that some of Valve's most popular protagonists are silent, there’s no turning back. “At this point we’re fully committed to it and taking it as far as it possibly could go.”
Eric Wolpaw, another writer at Valve, also provided some insight. Referring to Valve's hugely successful free to play game, TF2, he said: “that whole game is us desperately trying to keep our jobs."
“Comedy stuff is tougher because it’s more subjective and it’s really hard to gauge peoples’ reaction," he said. Wolpaw added that sometimes it’s a bit depressing, when people playtest a part in a game that’s supposed to be funny, and there's little reaction. “Pretty much no one that played Portal 2 cracked a smile, but testers still said the game was funny... It’s hard to tell if a joke is failing or not.”
Laidlaw was equally humble when referring to his own work: “We fail all the time, we just don’t advertise it too much...we always want to feel like we’re on the edge and challenging ourselves and growing all the time.”
What's your favourite example of writing in games? Let us know in the comments.
So now we know that Gordon Freeman will return in Renegade Ops. We can't say exactly why, but we can show you what he'll look like. See three new screenshots of Gordon's buggy in action below, along with some new artwork in which Gordon has a bit of a glare, perhaps a bit irate at how long it's taking for Episode 3 to come out.
Gordon Freeman will be a playable character in the PC version of Renegade Ops. The top down blaster will let us play as the Half Life hero and drive around in the Half Life 2 buggy, firing off rockets, taking out tanks with mounted machine guns and unleashing swarms of Antlions to quickly wipe out dozens of enemies at a time.
Renegade Ops is the latest from Just Cause and Just Cause 2 developers, Avalanche studios. A far cry from the sprawling, open world action of their previous titles, Renegade Ops will be a more traditional co-op shooter, with a very, very strange Gordon Freeman shaped twist.
“Working with Steam and the Half-Life team makes this game extra special.” said Sega's director of digital, John Clark. “Gordon Freeman is a deeply-established character in the gaming world and we are proud to have him included in Renegade Ops.”
Renegade Ops is out on Steam on October 14, and will cost $15.00 / £9.99 / €12.99 / AUD$ 20.00. Catch the first screenshot of Gordon in his buggy below, with more to follow on the site shortly. The One Free Man is back!
In the fast-paced world of PC gaming, Half-Life 2 may be considered 'getting on a bit', but its fan base still stands strong. No better evidence could be found than this great fan-film, telling the story of a resistance fighter opposing the rule of the Combine.
Found by the guys over at RPS, Singularity Collapse features some spectacular looking props and costumes that perfectly capture the atmosphere of Valve's iconic shooter, as well as some great CGI work using assets from the game itself. Gunfights and aesthetics aside though, it's really the gunship vs buggy chase that makes this a must-see.
Gabe Newell has said that Valve have moved past the episodic approach to creating games, and onto a "games as a service" model. This is geared towards quickly creating smaller updates for existing games. It's an approach best demonstrated by Team Fortress 2, which has received more than 200 updates since its launch in 2007. But what does this mean Portal 2, and what about Half Life 2: Episode 3?
An interview with Gabe Newell in the latest issue of Develop has uncovered a shift in Valve's philosophy for creating games. Newell says that the initial shift to the episodic approach was part of an attempt to protect Valve staff from the prolonged crunch times of developing one major title at a time. Since then, development cycles have become shorter and shorter, and the episodic approach has evolved into a fast paced cycle of updates.
Newell says “If you look at Team Fortress 2, that’s what we now think is the best model for what we’ve been doing, our updates and release model on keeps on getting shorter and shorter.”
But what does this mean for Half Life 2: Episode 3? Newell says that Valve are working on different projects at different speeds. “We sort of amortise the risk by working on different frequencies for different projects,” says Newell, "Team Fortress 2 is the fastest frequency we work on with comparatively fast updates. Er, Half-Life is apparently the slowest! Although, from the outside world, we have no evidence that Half-Life is working on any frequency at all. "
Newell says that Left 4 Dead is getting closer to the Team Fortress 2 model, with its regular mutation updates, comics and occasional community map updates. He also admits that there's a possibility that Portal 2 could receive similar treatment.
“Portal 2? We’ll have to see how much our customers want us to push in that direction. In general, our approach is to come into work and ask ‘what can we do for our customers today’?
“We get a huge amount of value in releasing things. Every decision you see our Team Fortress 2 team make is a direct result of feedback they’re getting from customers.
“Everything our team does is a result of tests they’ve done on the last two or three releases. Because its information from the last few updates that tells our team what to do next.”
Valve have already announced that the first DLC for Portal 2 will arrive this summer, bringing new test chambers and challenge modes to the game. Team Fortress 2, meanwhile, just received a video update that lets players record and edit their own replays.