Before I continue, I must say that I am probably one of the biggest fans of Valve, and probably one of the founding members of the Valve Defense Force. I own virtually every game they have, and had praised Steam back when it was a buggy unusable mess. But one thing that has annoyed me is comments I've read lately, here on Destructoid and on many message boards. Loads of speculation that doesn't make any sense, is largely illogical, and doesn't make logistical sense to how Valve works. So here is a handy dandy guide to debunking rumors I hear on the internet about that awesome game company. Half-Life 3! Or: How an episodic conclusion is taking three years to make, so they MUST be making it a sequel instead!
Okay, Valve HAS admitted the episodic gaming thing was a bust for them. Hell, the only company to do it with any form of success with episodic gaming was Telltale Games. It has been about two and a half years since Episode Two's dramatic conclusion (which I'll avoid mentioning here since some of you still probably haven't played it). Since we haven't seen hide nor hair of it, gamers must think that they've scrapped the episodic title and are gonna straight up call it "Half-Life 3."
First off, we must put this into perspective. Half-Life 2, when it was originally announced in 2003, took place in a completely different time and location than the first Half-Life. We were still Gordon Freeman, but we weren't in Black Mesa surviving a resonance cascade. We were in the Eastern-European "City 17" under enslavement of the Combine force. It was so different that at first glance it doesn't seem like a sequel. If Valve were to make a Half-Life 3, it is assumed that they would do the same thing that they did with Half-Life 2 six years ago: A different time, a different place, and Gordon Freeman's there to ruin somebody's day. I sincerely doubt that Valve would go for the easy sequel route in having it take place in the same universe as HL2, like every other franchise out there.
Second, you would confuse your userbase. Let's say that someone wants to get into Half-Life for the first time. They see Half-Life, Half-Life 2... Episode One? Episode Two? Are those "demos" of Half-Life 2? I know that sounds far-fetched, but when I was advising someone to get The Orange Box, they thought that's what Episode One was. It makes better sense to stick with the "Episode Three" name to keep consistency, as well as avoiding a scenario where Valve would have to explain the gap of events between Half-Life 2 and "Half-Life 3." It'd be incredibly frustrating and boring for those who have already played Episodes One and Two. Half-Life 3 on Source Engine 2! Or: How people miss the point what the Source engine was meant to be.
Okay, guys. I hear this more often than not, and it baffles me. Valve had meant the Source engine to be modular. That means if there's new tech, Valve just needs to code it into the existing engine and make it work with an existing game without having to build a new engine from the ground up like they did when Source engine was in development.
Over the course of several years, the Source engine has received the following technological updates:
* Depth of Field adjustment
* Motion blur
* High Dynamic Range (HDR) rendering
* Film grain effects
* Particle effects
* Color correction
* Left 4 Dead's AI Director
Basically, the Source engine that originally powered* Half-Life 2 is different than the Source engine that powers Left 4 Dead 2. To make a completely new engine would be defeating the purpose of the Source engine in the first place: To update it without needing to make a new engine every few years.
Besides, some games out there today use heavily modified versions of old engines! Did you know most of the Tom Clancy games actually use a modified Unreal Engine 2.5, and not Unreal Engine 3? I bet you didn't know all of Infinity Ward's Call of Duty games used a severely modified version of the Quake III Arena
engine. It's much easier to use existing tech and build on it.
If you want to be fair, why don't you ask Epic Games to use Unreal Engine 4 for Gears of War 3? After all, UE3 will be four years old by the time Gears 3 will be out, and that's still using that "old, dated" Unreal Engine 3 instead of "a new engine."
*-I know that Valve recently updated Half-Life 2 to the Orange Box version of the Source engine. In this case, I'm referring to the original game's engine in 2004. Counter-Strike 2! Team Fortress 3! Left 4 Dead 3! Or: How assumed sequelitis bites us in the ass.
Okay, I could understand a Counter-Strike sequel. Counter-Strike: Source came out in 2004, and it's long overdue. That will be something saved for the distant future, after Episode 3.
But Left 4 Dead 3? Team Fortress 3? Are you mad? Yes, L4D2 was a rare case of Valve making a sequel quickly after the original, but I sincerely doubt they want to do that song and dance routine once more. It's much easier to put out DLC like The Passing than it is to make a completely new game.
And Team Fortress 3? They still haven't released the Engineer Update for TF2! I sincerely doubt Valve would completely dump that game in favor of making a third one. Think, McFly, THINK! I hope Valve picked up the Black Mesa team and release it as a retail product! Or: How an ambitious mod project is mistaken as "retail worthy."
I'm gonna avoid going on a long tangent about Black Mesa the mod. But I'll give my quick two cents: Where the hell is it? Why has it taken you guys SIX YEARS to make a mod like this? I've seen projects by smaller groups and more content churned out FASTER than you guys have put out updates! If Black Mesa doesn't come out this year, I'm gonna label it abandonware and ignore it completely.
That being said, I sincerely doubt Valve would snatch up guys of an incomplete project that's a remake of their first game and put it out as a retail product, as we've seen that unfortunate tale happen before. See, back in the late 1990's, when id software was actually relevant in gaming circles, there was a group of modders making a Doom II Megawad called "TNT: Evilution." It was finished and almost ready to be put out for free. But then John Romero contacted TeamTNT and made it a full retail product, Final Doom, along with another megawad called The Plutonia Experiment. Needless to say, Doomers were pissed that their "free megawad" was made into a pay product. I don't think Valve wants to do that.
At most, some of the designers of the project might get game jobs (not necessarily at Valve), but until I see a playable product that I get my hands on, I'm not giving those guys the time of day. And neither would Valve. I hope Portal 2, Episode 3, and Left 4 Dead 3 get slapped into some Purple Box or something. Or: How people missed the point of the Orange Box.
The Orange Box was made as a way for 360 and PS3 owners to experience Half-Life 2 for the first time, if they hadn't played it on the PC (or original Xbox) already. Couple that with a new Half-Life 2 Episode, a bare-bones (by 2010 standards) Team Fortress 2, and the short and quirky Portal, and you had hours of gaming in a convenient box for $50/60.
But the thing is, Portal 2 is being fleshed out as a full game. As in, standalone. Valve puts enough confidence in it that it doesn't NEED to be in a bundle to get people interested. It's likely the same with Episode 3. They probably think that those are popular enough that they could be standalone without needing other games to justify the shorter-than-usual lengths. Granted, that doesn't mean Valve won't bundle these games later (There's a HL2 episodes pack out for retail on PC), but if you're expecting some Orange Box redux, keep dreaming. That'll be something we'll never see again for a long time. Did the author miss anything? Let me know.
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