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September 20, 2013 3:34 PM   Subscribe

Untold Riches: An Analysis Of Portal’s Level Design, from RPS, who have been looking at level design in their Level With Me series of interviews. Meanwhile Valve will be announcing something Monday morning - probably not Half Life 3.
posted by Artw (107 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
When people talk about works of interactive entertainment aspiring to offer some insight into the world, they tend to advocate titles like “The Walking Dead” and “Dear Esther”. That is sad to me, because it seems to suggest that to be artistically insightful, a game must be strategically dull.

I feel that the most beautiful pieces of interactive entertainment are the ones that communicate through strategic decisions you make. This means that the things you communicate are mostly “mathematical”, so I usually use comparisons with Bach and Islamic art when I’m trying to explain to people the kinds of artistic insights video games can offer.
Yessssss
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:51 PM on September 20, 2013 [16 favorites]


I liked that bit.
posted by Artw at 3:54 PM on September 20, 2013


Settop box?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:59 PM on September 20, 2013


Probably.
posted by Artw at 4:04 PM on September 20, 2013


Artw: "Meanwhile Valve will be announcing something Monday morning - probably not Half Life 3."

I dunno, man. Three circles, three whiskers on the cat, three buttons on the controller... I'm not saying that HL3 is coming out.

I'm just asking questions.
posted by brundlefly at 4:13 PM on September 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


OK, well, now I gotta go play Portal again. 'Course, I can think of worse ways to spend my Saturday.
posted by Frayed Knot at 4:17 PM on September 20, 2013


Steam box, official Valve Linux distro to run on it, Half-Life 4. Or H4lf-Life.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:19 PM on September 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Something is going to happen in four days. It feels Half-Lifey to me.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:40 PM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


portal 3? pleeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaase????
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 4:42 PM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it Ghostbusters 2?
posted by Brocktoon at 5:01 PM on September 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, I didn't want to spoil things, but I viewed source, checked the ids of all the images, and, well... Yes. Yes it is Ghostbusters 2. Well done.
posted by Artw at 5:06 PM on September 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


3 LINKS IN ARTW'S POST. HALF LIFE 3 IS COMING.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:22 PM on September 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I need HL3. Only took me 8 years to finish* the HL2 sequence (nope, didn't finish Ep2. Had no ammo at the last boss and was basically shitting my pants every time)
posted by deezil at 5:34 PM on September 20, 2013


If pronunciation book is HL-3 I will be in awe of Valve. But it is not.
posted by Justinian at 5:40 PM on September 20, 2013


yes portal 3 pleeeeeeeeeeeaseeeeee
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:43 PM on September 20, 2013


L4D3 seems like a safe bet - a console game, and the console on which to play it.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:04 PM on September 20, 2013


Half-Life 2 Voice Actor Says Half-Life 3 Isn't Being Worked On
posted by homunculus at 6:16 PM on September 20, 2013


Freeman's Mind hasn't been updated in a year. Another bad sign.
posted by homunculus at 6:17 PM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why make Half Life 3? This is the internet, everything is imperfect. Let HL3 soar next to the God of Never in pure imagined perfection. Do not sully the godhead with your mortal yearnings.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:27 PM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Something is going to happen in four days. It feels Half-Lifey to me.

Four days is ninety-six hours, three days is seventy-two hours. The first timer expires in fifty-six hours, that is, slightly over two days. It seems likely that when the first bubble is revealed we'll see a short timer for the second. So it's *possible* that the second bubble is whatever the "Something is going to happen..." thing is for. But it also seems pretty probable that someone else has just discovered that their meticulously planned ARG is getting stomped on by Valve's announcement.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:29 PM on September 20, 2013


Why make Half Life 3? This is the internet, everything is imperfect. Let HL3 soar next to the God of Never in pure imagined perfection. Do not sully the godhead with your mortal yearnings.

It worked out great for Duke Nukem.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:30 PM on September 20, 2013


Freeman's Mind hasn't been updated in a year. Another bad sign.

It has (up to episode 48, anyway). Just not much and under a different YouTube account due to some sort of dispute with Machinima.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 6:44 PM on September 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ah, I missed that. Thanks!
posted by homunculus at 6:48 PM on September 20, 2013


I don't think I would have found them had I not obsessively searched YouTube for "Freeman's Mind episode 45" on a daily basis until it finally showed up.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 6:55 PM on September 20, 2013


I will settle for an ending to half-life 2, thanks.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 7:59 PM on September 20, 2013


...probably not Half Life 3.

Half-life 3 confirmed
posted by heathkit at 8:21 PM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I WANT TO BELIEVE.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:54 PM on September 20, 2013


Gonna be another hat for TF2. Actually, just a palette swap of an old one.
posted by sourcequench at 8:59 PM on September 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I bet they are going to announce their new physical trading cards!
posted by oceanjesse at 9:02 PM on September 20, 2013


When are you people going to realize that there was never any such thing as Half-Life in the first place?

I know what you're thinking, Grimgrin, you may say "Half-Life exists, why, it's on my Steam account right now, look, here I am loading it. For that matter, it's on yours as well. You purchased it as part of the Orange Box in 2007" Perhaps! But consider, if Half-Life actually existed it would mean that a major game developer simply ignored their signature franchise, one which other products tied into, for 6 years. Now, whatever else we know about the games industry we know such a thing is simply beyond the realm of possibility.

Since Half-Life 2, Episode 3, must logically follow from Half-Life 2, Episode 2, and since Half-Life 2 must logically have followed from Half-Life 2, Episode 1 and so forth, we may conclude that as Half-Life 2, Episode 3 does not exist, neither does any Half-Life game.

It is beyond my powers to understand what exactly exists on my hard-drive, or what I have played. That may have to remain a mystery. Regardless, logic dictates that there is not and never was such a thing as Half-Life.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:03 PM on September 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


If Windows 8 is a glimpse into the future of Windows, I hope Valve successfully pushes Linux so I can get off this train.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:15 PM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Regardless, logic dictates that there is not and never was such a thing as Half-Life.

I believe. I believe there is a man with a long white beard in space who loves me. He's a garden gnome and I put him there. Ergo, Half-Life Episode 2 exists. I refute you thus.
posted by homunculus at 9:23 PM on September 20, 2013


That's no gnome. That's Jeb Kerman.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:53 PM on September 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


It is obviously a new franchise called Three.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:38 AM on September 21, 2013


When are you people going to realize that there was never any such thing as Half-Life in the first place?

So, if Grimgrin is right, it would naturally follow that Gabe Newell is not who he appears to be, and his real identity is...

Tommy Westphall.

Oh, dear. I'm going to lie down now.
posted by chambers at 11:58 AM on September 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


In case people haven't noticed, there are some cryptic icons inside the circles:
Number 1: O
Number 2: [O ]
Number 3: O+O
posted by Going To Maine at 2:45 PM on September 21, 2013


It also looks like a big DOTA 2 update is scheduled for Monday. Could be one of the things in the circles, since it's adding LAN play. Or rather, it plus maybe L4D3 (also supporting LAN play), and the steam box is announced as able to LAN events?
posted by Going To Maine at 2:47 PM on September 21, 2013


I have it on good authority that they will make two of the announcements, and they will exceed expectations. People will talk about these announcements for years.

They will never make the third announcement.
posted by graventy at 7:01 AM on September 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


I hadn't done the math before, but the first announcement is counting down to today at Steam O'Clock (i.e. 1 PM Eastern/10 AM Pacific, when they update their daily sales). So, twenty minutes.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:38 AM on September 23, 2013


Ten minutes. Steam is about to go down.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:49 AM on September 23, 2013


It's a Valve fork of Linux.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:01 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


....oh.

You can play all your Windows and Mac games on your SteamOS machine, too. Just turn on your existing computer and run Steam as you always have - then your SteamOS machine can stream those games over your home network straight to your TV!

Well then. That is a thing.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:04 AM on September 23, 2013


Well then. That is a thing.

Doesn't fix the problem that you need to own a gaming PC, alas, and means that one person can now lock up two of the house's media devices at once.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:21 AM on September 23, 2013


And that's only O!
posted by Artw at 10:44 AM on September 23, 2013


So if O is SteamOS, [O  ] is presumably SteamOS in a box, so some dedicated SteamOS hardware, and then O+O is some sort of connection between two SteamOS devices, so probably LAN gaming?
posted by Rock Steady at 10:59 AM on September 23, 2013


My guess is that O + O will be a method for people to sell software via Steam without going through Valve. Think of it as a sort of "Etsy for software" that is following on from the lessons learned from Greenlight.
posted by Uncle Ira at 11:29 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who doesn't care at all about playing PC games on a "big screen" in my living room? This is completely irrelevant to my interests.
posted by Justinian at 11:32 AM on September 23, 2013


Also I hate it when I accidentally click on BIG PICTURE. So annoying,
posted by Justinian at 11:33 AM on September 23, 2013


Am I the only one who doesn't care at all about playing PC games on a "big screen" in my living room?

Eh. Sometimes I kinda want to hook the laptop up to the tv, connect an xbox controller, and play some Fallout that way.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:34 AM on September 23, 2013


(tho if someone would make something like a phantom lapboard that wasn't stupid aspensive I'd prefer that)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:35 AM on September 23, 2013


ROU_Xenophobe: Eh. Sometimes I kinda want to hook the laptop up to the tv, connect an xbox controller, and play some Fallout that way.

Hmm. Just occurred to me. If they can get this game-streaming thing baked into an iOS app so that I can play games on my desktop through my iPad (with an MFi controller) that would change some things.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:41 AM on September 23, 2013


Justinian, it depends on the game. If you're talking about Team Fortress or Call of Duty or whatever, yeah, I'm keeping that on my keyboard+mouse setup. But there are a lot of games that were made to be played with a controller on a couch that I now play only on PC because either they're old console titles and it's way easier to get an old game for PC than for a modern console, or because the PC version was 1/4 the price of the console release thanks to online sales. For those, I'd like a cheap and easy way to get them from my PC on the third floor to my TV on the second.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:42 AM on September 23, 2013


You pixel stained console peasants! You can have my mouse and keyboard when you pry them from my cold, dead, cheetos stained hands.
posted by Justinian at 11:47 AM on September 23, 2013


My guess is that O + O will be a method for people to sell software via Steam without going through Valve. Think of it as a sort of "Etsy for software" that is following on from the lessons learned from Greenlight.

Greenlight is a horrible fucking mess. It's like picking through a garbage dump the size of China on the off-chance there might be a valuable ring inside. Also for some reason 99% of the garbage is badly-made and indistinguishable from the rest of the garbage.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:52 AM on September 23, 2013


If none of these other revelations involve SteamOS running software from GOG, Amazon, etc. (or the Internet at large) out of the box, Gabe Newell's "Windows 8 is horrible for gamers because it's closed" routine will go down as some of the most hilarious hypocrisy yet seen in gaming.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:56 AM on September 23, 2013


Do GOG and Amazon sell Linux executables?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:03 PM on September 23, 2013


Only if Android counts.
posted by Artw at 12:05 PM on September 23, 2013


So what, Valve is supposed to make a magical version of Linux that is binary compatible with Windows? Or else they're hypocrites? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:07 PM on September 23, 2013


Humble bundle, then?

It doesn't have to be compatible with windows, just with other storefronts that sell Linux games. Valve's public reasoning for this jump is the fear that Windows will convert to a walled-garden approach centered on the Windows Store, and how that's a horrible thing for the current openness of the platform. Which is true, but if they counter with their own walled garden (and do it first!), then it's not exactly the moral high ground.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:08 PM on September 23, 2013


So you're envisioning what, then, a Linux version of Windows RT?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:10 PM on September 23, 2013


Basically.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:11 PM on September 23, 2013


/would have been fairly happy with a Windows 8 offering a walled garden approach to gaming centered on Steam.
posted by Artw at 12:22 PM on September 23, 2013


Whoa. I really thought Jeff Gerstmann was off his rocker for thinking the SteamBox would mostly be a streaming device but it seems like that's going to be a pretty dang big part of it indeed. (At least to start with, until/if more games start getting ported.)
posted by kmz at 12:23 PM on September 23, 2013


Which is true, but if they counter with their own walled garden (and do it first!), then it's not exactly the moral high ground.

Let's be fair here - Valve, GOG, and the rest are all walled gardens already; they just mostly stock the same plants. (How many folks do you know who own games but have purchased them again on Steam?) This is a move to create a new walled garden that uses a different kind of soil.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:42 PM on September 23, 2013


A walled garden at the store level is fundamentally different from a walled OS, though. Steam will obviously be baked into SteamOS, but I think it's very important to ask whether they're going for an Android/Windows 8 model, with a built-in market that you can avoid if you choose, or the iOS/Windows RT kind of garden where you have to actively fight the operating system in order to install a program downloaded from anywhere but the approved source.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:11 PM on September 23, 2013


That's a good, substantial question.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:56 PM on September 23, 2013


My guess is that O + O will be a method for people to sell software via Steam without going through Valve. Think of it as a sort of "Etsy for software" that is following on from the lessons learned from Greenlight.

Gabe has mentioned user-generated stores before. That would fix a lot of the walled-garden problems (and probably introduce a lot of interesting new problems). You feel secure that someone approved the software and it isn't malware, but that someone doesn't have to be a big company focused on profits. Maybe it's TIGSource or the Roguelike Radio crew, and the interest is more on featuring awesome games than profits.
posted by Gary at 5:39 PM on September 23, 2013


...we think that there's a lot of aggregate value that can be created by allowing people to create stores.

Yo dog, we heard you like stores so we let you put a store in a store so now you can sell things to your friends while we sell things to your friends.

This is probably an okay idea but like Amazon lists, it make me feel all ick.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:54 PM on September 23, 2013


Since it was mentioned in this thread, y'all might be interested to know that the ending of that years-long pronunciation book tease was, indeed, basically BE SURE TO DRINK YOUR OVALTINE. I am so happy. Epic troll.
posted by Justinian at 4:21 PM on September 24, 2013


Or it's a fascinating piece of intricate performance art about time and meaning and authenticity. De gustibus and all.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:42 PM on September 24, 2013


IndieGameStand Launches Store As Alternative To Steam
posted by Artw at 8:08 AM on September 25, 2013


[O ] is the Steambox. Or, rather, an partnership with multiple OEMs to make multiple "Steam Machines" that run SteamOS out of the box (as it were). With luck this will go better than the Ultrabook program.

They're also making their own prototype in-house, which will be beta-tested by 300 lucky(?) Steam users. And since it's Steam, entry to the beta is gamified: you need to join a Steam friend group, make 10 friends and play something on Big Picture mode to throw your hat into the ring.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:02 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


You can use it to build a robot, it says so in the FAQ.
posted by Artw at 10:04 AM on September 25, 2013


Sounds like O+O might be a gamepad.
posted by Artw at 10:06 AM on September 25, 2013


"Can I hack this box? Run another OS? Change the hardware? Install my own software? Use it to build a robot?
Sure."

That's very promising. Not just the robot thing, the "install my own software" bit.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:09 AM on September 25, 2013


If you want. But Steam and SteamOS work well with gamepads, too. Stay tuned, though - we have some more to say very soon on the topic of input.

In two days:
"Half-Life 3 is here, and will require a keyboard, mouse, control pad, model portal gun, and steering wheel/foot pedal accelerator for the driving portions."
posted by Going To Maine at 10:44 AM on September 25, 2013


Worst case: Half Life 3 is here, and will not require a mouse.
posted by Artw at 10:45 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


You've all missed the obvious hints!

Half-Life 3 will be controlled by your very mind, using a controller modeled on an already familiar form factor.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:51 AM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


The HUDcrab.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:02 AM on September 25, 2013


Sounds like O+O might be a gamepad.

I think you're right. The internets have dug up a 2009 patent for a game controller with swappable modules for different kinds of games. (hat tip to a Hacker News commenter for finding this)
posted by teraflop at 11:18 AM on September 25, 2013


You may want to note the authors' other patent with Valve: Player biofeedback for dynamically controlling a video game state
posted by Going To Maine at 12:14 PM on September 25, 2013


Steam Controller
posted by Artw at 10:01 AM on September 27, 2013


O+O = Steam Controller. It's a gamepad that is absolutely packed with touchscreens and trackpads, which are fully customizable game-by-game. They're saying it can completely replicate the precision and options of a keyboard-and-mouse setup, which I will believe when I see.

It makes sense from a business perspective - Something like 80% of the games optimized for Big Picture are set to expect a 360 controller, and it's all kinds of awkward for Valve to try and cut their connection with Microsoft on the software side while every game in the store has an ad for their hardware built in.

And at the very least, when you compare it to the XB1 and PS4 pads, you can't say they went small.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:03 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


And the trackpads are speakers!
posted by Artw at 10:09 AM on September 27, 2013


(seriously, the haptics thing is super interesting)
posted by Artw at 10:11 AM on September 27, 2013


That controller is really interesting.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:20 AM on September 27, 2013


I'm interested in the trackpad for shooters, because I hate hate hate hate hate aiming with an analog stick. Even if they can only upgrade the experience to "mildly shitty," that's still a huge leap. Hopefully there's some way to replicate digital controls for movement, though. Analog running in a first-person game has never gelled with me.

Haptics I really couldn't care less about. You can do some interesting things with actual resistance, but this pad has no sticks and thus nothing to offer any resistance with. All it can do is vibrate interestingly. Plus nobody's going to design for it until there's ~100% adoption, which is a big NOPE.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:21 AM on September 27, 2013


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: Plus nobody's going to design for it until there's ~100% adoption, which is a big NOPE.

Well, presumably Valve will design for it.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:26 AM on September 27, 2013


Fair point. Inasmuch as they make games, at least.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:27 AM on September 27, 2013


Do they own some kind of franchise that everybody is interested in?




(DOTA, I mean.)
posted by Artw at 10:30 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh. The shoulder buttons are called "orange portal" and "blue portal".
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on September 27, 2013


Artw: Heh. The shoulder buttons are called "orange portal" and "blue portal".

Sadly, I think that is just a sample binding for Portal 2 and not the official names of the buttons.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:28 AM on September 27, 2013


We need some kind of campaign or something...
posted by Artw at 11:29 AM on September 27, 2013


If this controller will finally convince console games to allow competition against the PC master race I am all for it. I've been itching to headshot the peasants for years now.
posted by Justinian at 11:52 AM on September 27, 2013


(DOTA, I mean.)

I can't even imagine playing a game like DOTA on that.
posted by kmz at 11:58 AM on September 27, 2013


I can't even imagine playing a game like DOTA on that.

Left trackpad for targeting and selection, right trackpad for camera control, triggers for clicks, shoulder/face buttons for abilities, items bound to icons on the central touchscreen. Not sure about control groups for heroes like Chen and Meepo, but I'm willing to bet that someone at Valve has done a lot of work on that controller with DOTA 2 in mind.
posted by Uncle Ira at 12:13 PM on September 27, 2013


It's their thing at the moment. For all people on the outside talk about the Half Life series that's way below DOTA on their current list of priorities.
posted by Artw at 12:18 PM on September 27, 2013


In an interview last year Gabe mentioned that he had already logged 2,000 hours of playtime in DOTA2. That't the equivalent of a full-time job over the course of a year; no wonder we're still waiting on Ricochet 2.
posted by Uncle Ira at 12:24 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The font they are using for these announcements makes lowercase i the same height as lowercase t. Consequently I hate it.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:10 PM on September 27, 2013


Also when the counter reached 0 then NOTHING HAPPENED, until you refreshed the page. OUTRAGE!
posted by Artw at 1:14 PM on September 27, 2013


I can't see how you can press the Y or X buttons while maneuvering on the left trackpad (and B and A buttons for the right one). For example, the end of your thumb is going to press the button to talk, but then you'd have to stop moving, because that thumb isn't on the trackpad anymore.
posted by FJT at 3:24 PM on September 27, 2013


I'm deeply concerned about the possibility of soft buttons, which are the devil.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:44 AM on September 28, 2013


Gamasutra: Select game developers used the Steam Controller. Here's what they said

Tommy Refenes of Team Meat: My Time with the Steam Controller
posted by Uncle Ira at 11:49 AM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Being able to map completely different inputs to different sections of a trackpad is very good news.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:59 AM on September 28, 2013


NO. Change bad! Kill it with fire!
posted by Justinian at 6:09 PM on September 29, 2013


If I can't tell where on the interface device my fingers are by feel alone, with the exception of touch screens, it is a bad interface device.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:31 AM on September 30, 2013


Prototype SteamBox Specs Revealed!
posted by Artw at 4:51 PM on October 5, 2013


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