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July 22, 2012 4:07 PM   Subscribe


 
I like what he said about needing to get back to scaring the player. Ravenholm was magnificent.

I'm mainly scared that I'll be dead before another episode comes out.
posted by Decani at 4:31 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ravenholm is the part of HL2 I go back and regularly replay. (besides being wonderfully dark and scary, it's one of the parts that involves no vehicular travel - something in the airboat and car/buggy makes me queasy very quickly)
posted by rmd1023 at 4:35 PM on July 22, 2012


ok, now you've made me want to go re-play eps. 1 & 2, and continue to despise valve even more. enjoyment and hatred. blah, thanks.

portal 2 was not nearly enough! yes, cave johnson, but, no, you jerks. where is my crowbar now?

also what Decani said about being dead. Grigori. non-autoloading (but actually autoloading) italian shotguns. you jerks.
posted by dorian at 4:36 PM on July 22, 2012


I love the muscle car - there's something very Brock Sampson to running down huge enemy with it.
posted by Artw at 4:43 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I liked the last Gabe Newell quote.
I then asked him what's likely to horrify future players, now so much older than they were when they played the preceding games. "The death of their children," answered Newell. "The fading of their own abilities."
They better not take away my precious gravity gun. They better not kill Dog. No more dead Dogs!
posted by infinitewindow at 4:43 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eh, I don't mind if Dog gets blown into a thousand potentially-useful-gravity-gun-ammo metal lumps. I just want Gordon and Alyx to waterboard the G Man and finally unleash all their pent-up, blood-and-fear sublimated lust on each other's battle-scarred yet wonderfully combat-honed young bodies.

GODDAMMIT GABE DO YOU SEE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO ME GODDAMMIT
posted by Decani at 5:05 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


The appearance of the Portal Gun would freshen things up nicely.
posted by sourwookie at 5:11 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The appearance of the Portal Gun would freshen things up nicely.

Because of the two portals, we would get to take a peek at what Gordon Freeman looks like in person. I wouldn't be surprised if they have an issue with this, though, from a design perspective, and it keeps the portal gun from happening.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:20 PM on July 22, 2012


All you people with your ooh halflife 3 and ahh maybe gordon will talk, i TCH at you. I TCH dismissively while snorting.

What we need more of is hats.

lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots

of

hats.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:20 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Spaceman, we already know what Gordon looks like. He's on the box.

(I'd love to portal around a decayed urban environment. The best parts of Portal 1/2 are when you wander around backstage. I kind of wish that's what Portal 3 would give us, but probably not.)
posted by zompist at 5:28 PM on July 22, 2012


Pfffffffffft! Gordon's appearance is no secret. It's on the box art. ;)
posted by sourwookie at 5:28 PM on July 22, 2012


Mefi's own Gabe Newell, outed at last.
posted by Artw at 5:28 PM on July 22, 2012


"box art"

Kids, that's how you know we're talking about a very old game.
posted by ryanrs at 5:30 PM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I really hope HL is *not* retooled to include cutscenes, dialogue trees, Quicktime events (spit) and other clutter.
posted by Artw at 5:30 PM on July 22, 2012


Because of the two portals, we would get to take a peek at what Gordon Freeman looks like in person. I wouldn't be surprised if they have an issue with this, though, from a design perspective, and it keeps the portal gun from happening.

Isn't he on the box, though? There's art of Freeman everywhere, and being able to see him in a portal isn't likely to be especially jarring for anyone, I wouldn't think.

I don't think, however, you'll ever see the portal gun in broad use in HL3.... from Valve's perspective, whenever there's a portal gun, the environment has to be so, so tightly controlled. This is kind of alien to the more organic and freeform design of the Half-Life series. If it's there, I think it will only be usable in short sections at most.

As an example of what I'm talking about, think of the Portal 2 level where I believe you're introduced to the white portal paint for the first time. (this is the one with the classic Cave Johnson lemon lines, to twig your memory, and the paint pouring out of a pipe in a central 'cage' area that you must first escape, and then pull the paint out from to get out of the larger room.) The first time I went through that level, I took the time to basically paint every single surface. Everything. And Valve had designed that level with such obsessive care that it was impossible to go anywhere they didn't want you to go. The sheer number of corner cases they must have dealt with in that level design just boggled my mind. It was like playing in an inescapable playpen, absolutely prevented from going outside the bounds that Valve had gently but so, so firmly put in place.

After seeing that level, I realized that they could never allow the portal gun in any kind of unrestricted way in the Half-Life series. It would be too uncontrolled and chaotic, and Valve will absolutely not tolerate that.

Oh, and one final thought: they should have Gordon speak as the very last thing in HL3. My mental image is Alyx getting mad at him and walking off in a huff, and he finally comes out with, "Alyx, wait!" as the scene fades to black.
posted by Malor at 5:34 PM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


HL level design does tend to be extremely restrictive though - what distinguishes their levels from CoD or whatever the glass tunnel shooter de jeur happens to be is not that they are super sandboxy but they are for the most part they don't *feel* restricted.
posted by Artw at 5:38 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd rather his first words be "screw this" as he drops all weapons in a pile and stomps off in search of a beer--without Barney.
posted by sourwookie at 5:39 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


You play as Barney. Gordon is your NPC. Press E to NEVER SHUT UP.
posted by Artw at 5:41 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It'd be better if it turned out he was actually mute and we can't see him signing because the game is from his perspective.
posted by yonega at 5:42 PM on July 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


So.....is HL3 (or HL2e3, whatever) the new Duke Nukem? I mean, at this juncture is it likely to appear?
posted by maxwelton at 5:51 PM on July 22, 2012


Well, Duke Nukem kind of proved there are worse things than not appearing...
posted by Artw at 5:54 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


After seeing that level, I realized that they could never allow the portal gun in any kind of unrestricted way in the Half-Life series. It would be too uncontrolled and chaotic,
posted by Malor at 1:34 AM on July 23


This. I think a Portal gun in the Half Life world would be a disaster. It would be an unneeded restricting factor.

Portal is good, but wildly overrated, anyway. There. I've said it.
posted by Decani at 5:58 PM on July 22, 2012


Valve could allow the Portal gun inside the very artificial and constrained corridors (or cargo hold) of the Borealis. It's an Aperture Science ship after all. Same as you only get the super gravity gun while inside the Citadel.
posted by kandinski at 6:01 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I never played HL2 Episode 1 and 2 because when they came out, I thought I'd wait until all the episodes were out in a bundle so I could play them all at once. I guess I'm done waiting for that to happen. Might as well buy them now while the Steam Summer Sale is on!
posted by zsazsa at 6:13 PM on July 22, 2012


I've never played the episodes. I made the mistake of assuming ep. 3 would be released, and waited for them to come out as a package deal, a la the orange box. Oops. On preview, I see I'm not the only one. ;)

When Portal 2 came out, I watched my wife play all the way through, without ever playing the game myself past the first few puzzles. I knew that it was just another pretty game on a rail, and I just don't feel like playing that kind of game any more. Also, the commentary in the original Portal game, plus behind-the-scenes videos at Valve I've seen that go on and on about how they 'train' the player to do what THEY want the player to do, have really, really spoiled a lot of the goodwill I might have felt for Valve.

I'm not going to play Half-Life 3 unless it's a lot more free and open. Basically, I want Minecraft with headcrabs and Source-quality graphics. I realize that that kind of freedom will play hell with any attempt to tell a story, but damn it, I want to do what I want, when I want, and where I want, without some Valve designer smugly describing in a commentary how well he's created an illusion of choice and freedom in a game I'm probably going to have to pay 60$-70$ dollars for, brand new.
posted by KHAAAN! at 6:32 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


an illusion of choice

This is a valid criticism/observation of all video games. They are black boxes, there is only so much you can do. If you want true freedom, recommend board games, you are free to change the rules and play any way you want, your brain is the computer, no machine mediation.
posted by stbalbach at 6:51 PM on July 22, 2012


This is a valid criticism/observation of all video games.

It's a criticism of all reality! Everything is the same! The world is an amorphous goo and it is impossible to discuss anything!
posted by fleacircus at 7:14 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


[...]the general movement of the company towards multiplayer experiences might be a tempting direction for even this stalwart of single-player series.

Nooooooooooooooo!
posted by brundlefly at 8:30 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


You have no weapons. Buy the premium content gravity gun for $5?
posted by Artw at 8:35 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


What if they include portal technology, but it's never put into Gordon's hands? Chell as NPC, shooting portals for you when needed by the plot? If used sparingly, it could work.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:00 PM on July 22, 2012


an illusion of choice

It's interesting you used that phrase, since it's part of G-man's speech from the last scene in HL1. Maybe that's the theme of the whole HL series.
posted by hellojed at 9:23 PM on July 22, 2012


I knew that it was just another pretty game on a rail, and I just don't feel like playing that kind of game any more.

Don't let the first-person perspective fool you. Yes, it's not minecraft, but nor is it a typical 'on-rails' shooter. Portal 1 is in the same space as braid, or spacechem - it's a puzzle game that's designed to make your brain squeak when you try to figure out how to get from A to B this time. The first wasn't afraid to give you some really tricky problems that you had to really work on. There's this one bit with a surface that rotates at an angle - for a short time - that you can use to make a super long jump with, but involves a long fall to get up to speed...
a friend of mine managed to solve that room without using that method using an incredibly tough to pull off 'fire a portal precisely while turning and falling to your death' to get a portal by the exit directly, as that's how he thought you were supposed to solve it.

Portal 2 is more mainstream, as it was an official valve production as opposed to the semi-indie hit that the first one was, so they made the puzzle progession a little more straightforward, building each stage from previous work. There was a lot less 'how the hell do I solve this?' problems, because they'd 'trained' you how to solve them already - mainly because they wanted to avoid people getting stuck on a random difficulty spike and giving up half way through the game. On the other hand, the storyline, characters, level art and voice acting in portal 2 are sublime, especially if you go digging around a bit in fairly well hidden areas. I'd say portal 1 is the better puzzle game, and portal 2 is the better story, but they're both two of my favorite games ever.

I think the episodic nature of half-life didn't work, because the point was to much more quickly push out shorter versions of half-life in chunks, rather than spend 5, 10 years finely crafting a full game. Except they got stuck on their obsessive focus on polish, and making everything just 'perfect', and each episode kinda ended up being almost as much work as the full game.

I did also see an interview with Gabe about Half life episode 3 a couple of years ago now, and he rather strongly hinted that they'd kinda got burned out on the half life story and what to do next, and rather than rush some half-hearted effort out the door they'd taken a bit of a mental break and worked on other things - such as portal 2 and tf2 - so they could come back to half life later with a fresh approach and not just pull the duke nukem forever 'for gods sake, just ship something!' lever.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:24 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Every time I look at Dog I feel guilty for losing his ball in the mines after Ravenholm. I could have done it with a Portal gun, goddamn it.
posted by homunculus at 11:40 PM on July 22, 2012


You play as Barney. Gordon is your NPC. Press E to NEVER SHUT UP.

I've actually been wondering if they're going to let you choose to play as either Alyx or Gordon; Alyx gets the Portal gun while Gordon gets the Gravity gun.
posted by homunculus at 11:44 PM on July 22, 2012


Man, Portal. I'm stuck at a level where you have to place two portals vertically, fall from one into the other to accelerate and then mid-fall place another portal to clear a gap with your momentum. I know the solution to the puzzle. I verified it on youtube, too. I always fall a step short.

I suppose I could find a noclip code and skip the room, but it's vexing.
posted by ersatz at 4:16 AM on July 23, 2012


I nearly gave up halfway through Portal 1 because I thought I'd finished. Depressing ending, having Chell die in an incinerator but whatever. I people hadn't kept on going on about the song in the end credits, I might have left it there forever.

Any, screw the idea of making HL3 a wide-open sandbox. I want to be told a straightforward well-paced story about Freeman and friends. I don't want the narrative broken into little intersecting chunks, I want linearity!
posted by WhackyparseThis at 6:38 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


nearly gave up halfway through Portal 1 because I thought I'd finished. Depressing ending, having Chell die in an incinerator but whatever. I people hadn't kept on going on about the song in the end credits, I might have left it there forever.

See, for me, that was the highpoint of the series. I don't know why, but ever since I was a kid I've had this daydream of finding some little secret, some unassuming door or secret glitch, that would reveal a whole, massive area of a game that most people would never find - like those Action Half-Life levels (sadly, I never played it).

Obviously, in Portal you're *meant* to find the back-area, but... it came pretty close to that oft-imagined WOAHS moment for me.
posted by Drexen at 6:52 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


the commentary in the original Portal game, plus behind-the-scenes videos at Valve I've seen that go on and on about how they 'train' the player to do what THEY want the player to do, have really, really spoiled a lot of the goodwill I might have felt for Valve.

Wha huh? That's about smoothly introducing gameplay mechanics so the player isn't stuck wondering what to do next, not about, uh, whatever sinister motive you're filing under "train" that I can't even...

I'm not going to play Half-Life 3 unless it's a lot more free and open. Basically, I want Minecraft with headcrabs and Source-quality graphics. I realize that that kind of freedom will play hell with any attempt to tell a story

Oh. Yeah, ok, you don't want Valve games then. They're just about the only games company I can think of that has successfully pulled off storytelling in games without it just feeling like PRESS X TO VIEW THE NEXT CUTSCENE or HEY THIS CRAPPY STUDENT FILM KEEPS INTERRUPTING MY FIRST PERSON SHOOTER. In most story games the story and the gameplay seem to be in competition or just irrelevant to one another; the rare cases in which they're inseparable mostly seem to have the Valve logo on 'em.

Which, cool, you prefer open sandbox games. There is no shortage of those. Play those, but don't call for Valve to ruin Half Life by turning it into something that it isn't.
posted by ook at 7:19 AM on July 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Taking that last Newell comment and running with it... In HL3 we fast forward many years and Gordon and Alyx have a kid that you have to protect. Alyx probably dies about half-way through. And by the end, the kid is saved due to a sacrifice by Gordon, who dies. You play the final section as the kid and set up HL4.
posted by papercake at 7:43 AM on July 23, 2012


I'm not going to play Half-Life 3 unless it's a lot more free and open. Basically, I want Minecraft with headcrabs and Source-quality graphics.

OK -- but that's not the Half Life 3 that the series suggests, or that I (as a fan of both Minecraft and HL) want.
posted by ellF at 10:29 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


WhackyparseThis: "Any, screw the idea of making HL3 a wide-open sandbox. I want to be told a straightforward well-paced story about Freeman and friends. I don't want the narrative broken into little intersecting chunks, I want linearity!"

Hear, hear. Recently I was discussing Half-Life 2 with someone, and they were saying it doesn't hold up well because of how linear it is. It's so bizarre to judge a game by the standards of a totally different genre. HL is a linear FPS and it is great!

Tetris isn't a sandbox, either.
posted by brundlefly at 11:58 AM on July 23, 2012


I never said that Valve was bad at telling a story though a game. Hell, they're brilliant at it, as far as I can tell. In my previous comment, I specifically stated that my idea of a sandbox-style Half-Life 3 might totally screw up that story-telling ability. That does give me pause on the whole sandbox thing, and I see now that I didn't state that clearly.

I never assigned any kind of 'sinister' motive to the Valve designers. But, if I'm playing a Valve game, and I come up with a solution to a given problem, be it a portal puzzle or duking it out with ant lions or whatever, I now cannot get the thought out of my head that I'm just playing out a script that someone else has designed, without my knowledge, consent or input. I find it highly offensive that a game's design is meant to herd me down some pre-determined course like a farm animal, and that any action I might take to go 'off-mission' has been accounted for and prevented.

I prefer a freedom of choice, of mobility, of action and interaction in a video game. But that's just my preference. Your favorite linear first person shooter does not suck.

I agree, Tetris isn't a sandbox game. But, it doesn't present me with a 3-dimensional environment approximating the real world, with all of the implied abilities one has in that environment, either.
posted by KHAAAN! at 1:14 PM on July 23, 2012


without my knowledge, consent or input

Whuh? Unless someone forced you to play a game without letting you read a description and reviews, then this doesn't apply. In fact, it sounds kind of creepy to me.

I find it highly offensive that a game's design is meant to herd me down some pre-determined course like a farm animal, and that any action I might take to go 'off-mission' has been accounted for and prevented.

This sounds somewhat odd. Do you find books that you haven't written offensive? Do you find movies and scripted television offensive? Do you find board games offensive? Narrative games, regardless of genre, follow many of the same structures and tropes. The only difference is a willingness to be a part of that as terms of your immersion in the game. Of course, if you do find all of those offensive, then that begs the question as to why you continue to engage in something you don't enjoy, which is another conversation entirely.

I prefer a freedom of choice, of mobility, of action and interaction in a video game. But that's just my preference. Your favorite linear first person shooter does not suck.

If this is the case, then perhaps using highly-charged (and in this case inappropriate) concepts like lack of consent, high offense, and farm animal metaphors are perhaps unwarranted, no?
posted by zombieflanders at 1:39 PM on July 23, 2012


You play as Barney. Gordon is your NPC. Press E to NEVER SHUT UP.

And they should use the guy from Freeman's Mind for Gordon's voice.
posted by homunculus at 3:03 PM on July 23, 2012


Sigh.

I used to play these games. When I learned how Valve games are put together, and the mindset of their designers, I didn't want to play them any more. As I said, I haven't played Portal 2 past the first few puzzles. I played through all of Half-Life 2 when it first came out, but this was before I was consciously aware of things like linearity and sandbox games. I haven't seriously played any linear first person shooter in years. The only games I currently play with any regularity are Torchlight and Minecraft. Torchlight is not a sandbox game, of course, but I don't expect it to be one, either. I'm content with the wash-rinse-repeat mechanic of killing monsters and acquiring treasure within this game. If that's inconsistent with what I've said before, then it's inconsistent. So there. :P

I think the use of a linear fps as a delivery system for narrative content is all well and good, I suppose, but I'm no longer interested in playing that sort of game, no matter how good the narrative is. I don't derive any pleasure from finding the 'right' action to unlock narrative content any more, especially when invisible hands, if you will, are pushing me to and fro.

If this is the case, then perhaps using highly-charged (and in this case inappropriate) concepts like lack of consent, high offense, and farm animal metaphors are perhaps unwarranted, no?

As far as I am concerned, no, they are not unwarranted. I don't like being told what to do, and I don't like being made to do things. I really don't like having my behavior subliminally manipulated, even within the benign confines of a video game. These are hot-button issues for me, and I have a very, very strong negative reaction to them, so I tend to express myself strongly when they come up. And I will continue to do so, flaggers and mods willing.
posted by KHAAAN! at 3:48 PM on July 23, 2012


Gordon should be voiced by Bryan Cranston, if he has any voice at all, and I agree that he should speak near the end of the series...

The Portal Gun can be introduced, but in very controlled environment, but there aren't any environments like those that are consistent with the Portal universe, so it isn't going to be very plausible, unless we have Gordon tracking the Aperture shipping container into the Aperture universe somehow.

We should get to go to Xen at the end. And we should get to fight the larvae, or, better yet, we get to see the larvae change into the baby with the folding head flaps ala HL1.

A goofier ending would have us finding Hitler with machine guns for forearms, riding a unicycle that is also his lower half.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 5:55 PM on July 23, 2012


You have really weird issues with video games.
posted by ryanrs at 11:04 PM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]




His website has some nice concept art but boy is it reminding me why everyone hates Flash sites.
posted by Artw at 8:42 AM on July 24, 2012


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