Half-Life 2: Episode One

This is a really strange development that requires some pondering and discussion. An expansion for Half-Life 2 has been in development for a while (previously named Aftermath). Reportedly, it follows Alyx (and, some reports say, Gordon) escaping from the devastation immediately following the end of Half-Life 2.

But last week, things got weird. Valve renamed Aftermath to Half-Life 2: Episode One. Doug Lombardi is being terse at the moment, but this appears to indicate intent to release regular episodic content. In general, this is a good thing, but I have a number of concerns.

The first concern is with naming. What is the “original” Half-Life 2, chopped liver? Episode Zero? Does anyone remember the naming scheme of the series that started with Dark Forces? First, there was Dark Forces. Then, there was Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight. Then there was Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast. Then, well, they decided to stick with Jedi Knight, which I think was a good idea. I predict that it won’t be long until there are sub-subtitles (Half-Life 2: Episode Three: Return of the Snarks) or they abandon the episode number altogether. (As a side note, for the nerd subculture, the “Episode Foo” scheme invokes too much Star Wars Prequelism to be anything but unsettling.)

But the bigger problem I see is Valve’s rampant perfectionism, and thus their inability to deliver a game on time since, well, the first Half-Life. Sure, this is inarguably a Good Thing™ when it comes to game quality. But when you make a promise to release regular content (especially if you charge per-“episode”), you need to do it. And that means cutting corners. It’s taken them a year and a half to release Aftermath. How long will Episode Two take?

Garry's Mod v6

Nomad will be happy about the big new feature in these preview screenshots of Garry’s mod v6. Garry says: “Should have it by the end of next weekend..” Also, this video made me laugh for exactly 1 minute and 25 seconds.

Update: Actually, according to this thread, Garry's hard drive is AWOL and there may never be another Garry's mod release ever again. We all wait on pins and needles!

Update 1/26: Garry's "broken hard drive" was a hoax. Also, he makes fun of idiots on his forums and bans people randomly for saying stupid shit.

Garry's mod update

There’s a Garry’s mod update, including “uncomplete (sic) and unsupported” multiplayer.

HL2: Ravenholm Done Quick

Half-Life 2. Ravenholm. Hard difficulty. Done in 2:28 [WMV, 44MB]. Amazing. Those gravity gun jumps are great. This is just a small portion of the larger HL2 Done Quick project.

HL2 Story

One of the things that’s a little upsetting about the Half-Life story is that you’re pretty much in the dark about what’s been going on between the two games. And even if you knew that, you’d be missing the big picture story. What’s the G-Man’s motivation? Who the hell is he, anyhow? What’s the relationship between the Combine and Xen? Well, someone’s mixed everything we’ve been told or shown with a little creative speculation, and come up with the Half-Life Saga Story Guide. Amazing.

G-Man Sightings

A full list of G-Man sightings in Half-Life 2. I can’t believe I’ve missed so many; I think I’ve seen him twice.

Update 19:00 - I finished the game. Spoilers inside.

The ending was quite abrupt, but when I think about it, a "last guy" is so inappropriate. It'd make the game feel like a game. The best thing about it was that it was so immersive. No cut scenes and load times broken up to keep them to as short as possible. I look forward to the inevitable Gearbox expansions and Half-Life 3.

The super gravity gun and the last chapter or two of the game were absolutely amazing. The game absolutely got better as it went on.

Next step, see how far I can get in difficult, and wait for the SDK release.

Source SDK next week

The most recent news post for Steam contains this gem:

Next week we will be releasing the Source SDK, along with a surprise for the community.

HL2 First Thoughts

First thoughts on Half-Life 2:

  1. Man am I glad I finally upgraded my computer.
  2. More importantly, I'm glad I upgraded my computer a couple months ago, so that I had time to freshen-up my FPS skills.
  3. The graphics, although amazing, don't really represent any giant leap forward. I'm still interested in trying the game out on a lower-powered machine (my new laptop, perhaps), since that may demonstrate the flexibility of the engine. But when you compare it to Doom 3 and Far Cry, they're visually all very comparable.
  4. The physics engine on the other hand is far better done than I was expecting. It's so amazingly pervasive. My single complaint is that you can't use the gravity gun (even the 'push' mode) on corpses.
  5. I'm three or four hours in (past Ravenholm, driving down the coast in a dune buggy), and I'm not 100% clear on what the story is. What the hell am I doing? I mean, I know my current task, which I won't expand on for fears of spoilering, but I don't know the whole point of what I'm doing in Half-Life-land.
  6. On the other hand, that doesn't keep it from being a ridiculously fun game.

I have other thoughts, but they aren't important. This game is great. Steam worked perfectly. I wonder when the first mods will start coming out..


Half-Life 2 is Gold

The release date is November 16. Mark your calendars. More information here. No word on Steam availability yet.

Update: Everything I've read so far is indicating that Valve will honor their contract with Vivendi, so even those who purchased through Steam won't have it for a month. Update 10-19: Changed the details link to the official press release.

GTA:SA and HL2 gold

As if you doubted its promptness, GTA San Andreas has gone gold. In other, less inevitable news, Gamespot is claiming that Half-Life 2 has gone gold. True? Not? I’m preloading part 6 right now, and I’m hoping part 7 will be the last.

Half-Life 2 packages available tomorrow

This just in:

Tomorrow at 11 am PST [I think they mean PDT, which is 2pm EDT], the Half-Life 2 Steam offers will be ready for purchase. Those who purchase via Steam, will receive the final version of Counter-Strike: Source immediately.

This news, prices (bronze $50, silver $60, gold $90), and details available.

Half-Life is One Year Late

Today is the one-year anniversary of the original release date of Half-Life 2. It doesn’t look like we have much longer to wait, though.

PC Gamer’s Half-Life 2 review (not preview) gave the game a score of 96%. The story is that it tied the highest score that the magazine has ever given a game. And the previous record was set by Half-Life.

Hype is one thing, but this is quite another:

Halflife2.net: Was Half-Life 2 what you expected?
Chuck Osborn (PCGamer Editor): More

Half-Life Purchase Options

Half-Life Fallout has a list of purchase options for Half-Life 2. Six CDs, three different Steam packages, and Counter-Strike: Source available for play by next week. Does that mean HL2 will be available at the same time, or shortly thereafter?

But it’s gonna cost more to get HL2 (through Steam) with CS:S than without it? Ouch, that’s gonna be a tough choice.

Update: HLFallout.net is running a bit slow, Halflife2.net has the information on their front page, also.

HL2 RC Sent

The Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source, and Half-Life: Source Release Candidates have been sent to Vivendi. Now we play the waiting game (some more).

The waiting game sucks. Let’s play Hungry, Hungry Hippos!

CS:Source quote

It’s old, but this quote from Gabe Newell is pretty interesting. “We’re doing [the CS:Source Beta] before we RC Half-Life 2 to give us time to fix any issues that surface … We also get information back from the engine when it crashes … So don’t think of this as a CS:Source beta as much as it is a Source engine configuration and compatibility test.”


The Geiger Counter on Planet Half-Life isn't archived or permalinked, but it's got a good discussion of the current plan:

Valve has announced that they will be delivering an RC (release candidate) to Vivendi around the 15th of this month. That does not mean that HL2 will be out immediately thereafter. Vivendi will still have to approve the RC, a process that could take another two or three weeks, depending on their QA department and how fit the RC is to be released. If it were rejected, Valve would have to cook up another one and submit that for approval. Once an RC is approved, we should get a "gone gold" announcement. Those of you who preloaded HL2 and intend to buy it online would *may* be allowed to purchase it shortly afterward and start playing it once you've downloaded the last few files (I'm still not certain whether Valve contractually obliged to wait until it's on the shelves - I don't have Fragmaster's psychic spy network). For those of you still intending to buy a physical copy, it would be at least another few weeks before the game hit the shelves; duplication, packaging and shipping take a while.

The "RC on September 15" information comes from this Gamespot story.

HL2 Pre-load

OMFG. The Half-Life 2 preload begins. “Purchase options will be released soon.”

Be sure to keep an eye on the Steam Network Status page (specifically the yellow line on the bottom graph). Will Steam be slashdotted?

CS: Source Beta

I’m posting this from “WebWarriorz” at the Brass Mill Center in Waterbury, CT. Ten minutes from my home, and a member of the Counter-Strike: Source Beta. Whee! (More to come)