Half-Life

Valve may or may not be working on Half-Life 3. (This guy might know, but he's no squealer.) What it is working on, it turns out, is Half-Life. Yesterday—20 years, 10 months, and 19 days after Half-Life was released—Valve released a new update for the game that fixes a surprising number of, admittedly, very minor problems.

Here's the full list of changes:

  • Fixed setting monitor refresh rates through -freq when used with -nofbo
  • Fixed unnecessary texture rescaling with NPOT textures
  • Fixed slist command, will now show servers on the local network
  • Fixed erroneous return in SV_ClipToLinks (HL #1685)
  • Fixed inability to reload a partially empty weapon after reloading a save game
  • Fixed MP5 spread factor, multiplayer factor was being used for single player and single player for multiplayer
  • Fixed progress bar for individual files in resource download always showing at 100%
  • Added auto-saving of several cvars (HL #2237)
  • Fixed missing localizations in spectator UI
  • Fixed NPC turn rate when running at >60FPS
  • Reordered columns in server browser to prevent game descriptions from being used to fake server player count
  • Fixed sv_cheats from being settable by players in a multiplayer game (sv_cheats is controllable by the server)
  • Added cl_autowepswitch cvar with values 0/1 to disable/enable auto weapon switching when a new weapon is picked up
  • Fix various weapon animation/sound issues
  • Security fixes to console commands
  • Security fixes to resource loading
  • Security fixes to saving/loading

None of these fixes are going to put Half-Life back atop the Steam Top 100 (although it maintains a surprisingly robust player count for a 20-year-old shooter), but it is kind of amusing to see some of the things that have gone unaddressed until now. All this time, for instance, the MP5's singleplayer and multiplayer spread factor has been reversed—how does that happen? Columns in the server browser have also been reordered to keep unscrupulous operators from using game descriptions to fake player counts, which I have to think isn't quite as much of a problem now as it was in, say, 2001.

The Half-Life patch comes just a couple of weeks after a similar out-of-the-blue update arrived for the not-quite-as-but-still-very-old Half-Life 2. And yes, it's a little strange, but Half-Life is a great shooter (and so is HL2), and it's fun to see Valve popping in every now and then to dust and straighten.

If you'd like to sample Half-Life in all its original glory, we can help. Check out our guide to building a fantastic 1998 PC gaming rig, complete with 16MB RAM and super-hot Voodoo 2 technology, right here.

Half-Life - mikela
An update for Half-Life is now available:

Fixes and Updates
  • Fixed setting monitor refresh rates through -freq when used with -nofbo
  • Fixed unnecessary texture rescaling with NPOT textures
  • Fixed slist command, will now show servers on the local network
  • Fixed erroneous return in SV_ClipToLinks (HL #1685)
  • Fixed inability to reload a partially empty weapon after reloading a save game
  • Fixed MP5 spread factor, multiplayer factor was being used for single player and single player for multiplayer
  • Fixed progress bar for individual files in resource download always showing at 100%
  • Added auto-saving of several cvars (HL #2237)
  • Fixed missing localizations in spectator UI
  • Fixed NPC turn rate when running at >60FPS
  • Reordered columns in server browser to prevent game descriptions from being used to fake server player count
  • Fixed sv_cheats from being settable by players in a multiplayer game (sv_cheats is controllable by the server)
  • Added cl_autowepswitch cvar with values 0/1 to disable/enable auto weapon switching when a new weapon is picked up
  • Fix various weapon animation/sound issues
  • Security fixes to console commands
  • Security fixes to resource loading
  • Security fixes to saving/loading
Half-Life - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Natalie Clayton)

Oof, imagine not blinking for half a decade. My eyes shiver at the thought. But this is what the NPCs of Half-Life 2 have been suffering. The dry eye epidemic was first reported to Valve’s GitHub repo back in 2014 and since then it turns out only a select few have felt the joy of smashing their eyelids shut. But after almost five long years, City 17’s tortured citizens can finally blink again, thanks to a small official update.

(more…)

Half-Life

A YouTube legend named TheMostUpset has been diligently redubbing famous scenes from movies like Back to the Future, The Terminator, and The Shining—as well as the recent TV series Chernobyl—with sounds and voices from Half-Life. 

Hearing Doc Brown talk like a Black Mesa scientist is obviously a perfect match, and redubbing Arnie with the VOX announcement system works pretty well, but some of the other choices for replacements are a bit more left-field and inspired. I'll let you see for yourself in the videos embedded here.

Hearing Arnie shoot up a police station accompanied by a bunch of 1998 videogame gunshot noises is weirdly nostalgic, and yet it's still a potent and effective bit of film-making. Movies, man.

Check out some more over at TheMostUpset's YouTube channel.

Half-Life - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Natalie Clayton)

It feels like only yesterday that Half-Life remake Black Mesa was a joke. The highest-profile vaporware of the Source modding community. That thing had been milling around since 2005. Nobody thought it would ever actually come out. I remember feeling properly shook when eventually did in 2012, seven years later.

Except, it wasn’t exactly done. Crowbar Collective have been trying to figure out Xen, Half-Life’s notorious last chapter, for almost as long as the Earth bits were in development. With today’s Gonarch chapter entering public beta, it got a little bit closer to completion.

(more…)

Half-Life - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Dominic Tarason)

The long-delayed Xen chapters of Black Mesa – Crowbar Collective’s remake of the original Half-Life – feel tantalisingly close now. In a Steam blog post yesterday, the devs warn that “If you want the polished, complete Xen experience, you should wait. It won t be long!”, but if you’re ready for your first taste of their re-imagined alien world, you can try it now. The first three (of nineteen) maps are available to play as an opt-in beta, with the intent of testing how badly PCs buckle under the extensive changes they’ve made under the hood. Below, some thoughts on the new Xen.

(more…)

Half-Life - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (RPS)

I say watch because this week’s podcast takes place in a real room in front of a real audience (don t worry, there s an audio version too). At Rezzed in London this month, we thought it d be fun to re-enact three of the most memorable scenes of PC gaming, exactly as you remember them. So strap on your eye-wideners and prepare for some wonderful acting. Including a 100% faithful adaptation of the most notorious moment in any Final Fantasy game: the death of… Aerosmith?

Alice! Alice, what have you done to these scripts!?

(more…)

Half-Life - mikela
This list covers the releases between March 20 and April 11 that are each part of a series of security updates.

Larger changes:
  • Added privilege checking to command execution. Commands originating outside of the client are now only able to execute commands that are considered to be safe. Commands such as 'connect', 'bind', 'quit' and certain cvars such as 'cl_filterstuffcmd' are now only executable by trusted sources.
  • Setting 'cl_filterstuffcmd' to a value greater than zero (e.g. 'cl_filterstuffcmd 1') will set a number of commands that are potentially abusable, such as 'say', 'fps_max', and 'setinfo', to also be only executable by privileged sources.

Fixes:
  • Fixed client incorrectly blocking download of custom sprays

Security fixes:
  • All custom resources downloaded from a server now have their file name's checked for safety before being allowed to download
  • Invalid file extensions are now prevented in several commands
  • Dynamic libraries are no longer searched for in custom resource directories
  • Added additional file extensions to custom resource blocked extensions list
  • Fixed buffer overflow in message delta parsing
  • Fixed RCE in weapon message handling
  • Fixed RCE in model loading
  • Fixed RCE in saved game loading
  • Fixed buffer overflows in TGA and BMP loading
  • Fixed buffer overflow in demo playback
  • Fixed buffer overflows in sequence file loading
  • Fixed buffer overflows in model name loading
  • Fixed buffer overflow in music playlist loading
  • Fixed buffer overflow in detail texture loading
  • Fixed buffer overflow in console map listing
  • Fixed command chaining in cvar's that specified config files to be passed to the 'exec' command
Half-Life

Update: It appears that, yet again, our hopes have been raised, only to be smashed down upon the cold, hard, rocks of reality. Shortly after this post went up, McVicker deleted the video containing the "five years or so" tease, saying on Twitter that two people have confirmed to him that the email was actually a fake.   

It's unfortunate, but it also aptly illustrates the thirst that so many of us have for a new Half-Life, or even just an indication from someone in the know that it's actually (maybe) going to happen. I still haven't received a response from Newell denying—or, because hope dies hard, confirming—the original report, but I'll let you know if and when I do. In the meantime, it looks like we'll be adding this one to the collection.

Original story: 

Will we ever actually see Half-Life 3? Or even Half-Life 2: Episode 3? Probably not. But maybe! Who knows? Valve boss Gabe Newell does, possibly, and he's even got a time-frame in mind. Maybe. 

The latest thin Half-Life 3 pseudo-tease comes from Newell himself by way of Tyler McVicker, who's behind Valve News Network, an unofficial but well-informed source of goings-on at Valve. In a new video, McVicker shares a number of user-submitted email replies from Newell, some of them silly meme fodder and others more serious. 

The big bit comes at the very end of the video, around the 6:45 mark, when a fan writes, "Was just wondering, will I be able to play [a] new chapter of Half-Life before my life ends? I'm 32 now."  

To that, Newell replies, "Just don't die in the next 5 years or so ;)" 

That is incredibly imprecise, but it fits with what we've come to expect from talk of the next chapter in the Half-Life series: Eternally hopeful, but couched in the sort of cynical doubt that comes from well over a decade of elevated expectations and dashed dreams. Is it possible that a new Half-Life, be it Episode 3 or HL3 or whatever, arrives at some point in the next half-decade? Sure. Is it likely? That's a different matter altogether, especially when the time frame comes with the "or so" qualifier attached, which could mean just about anything. And that winky face? I have no idea.

There's also the question of whether or not Newell actually sent this email: Valve News Network is a reliable source, but just in case, I've emailed Newell to make sure he definitely sent this email. I'll let you know if he replies. 

Thanks, PCGamesN.

Half-Life - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

A calamitous crossing of worlds has occurred in Two Point Hospital, the spiritual successor to Bullfrog’s Theme Hospital, with Half-Life headcrabs glomping onto heads and all manner of decorative doodads from Sega PC games scattering around hospitals. If you’ve not yet played the wacky hospital management sim, hey, you’re invited to try the whole thing for free this weekend on Steam. The trial weekend has just started, so hop to it. Well, don’t hop if you’re suffering from Hurty Leg, Premature Mummification, Night Fever, Lazy Bones, or Mucky Feet, in which case the doctor will see you now.

(more…)

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