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Half-Life 2 Panoramics
May 19, 2005 5:32 PM   Subscribe

Half-Life 2 Panoramics - "Generally, before releasing games, publishers and developers give game portals some screenshots where you can see the graphic features of the in-development game, and perhaps some game action. I wanted to go further and highlight the architectural and photographic aspects of the game, which I'll demonstrate with QTVR images shot during game play, the first time (that I'm aware of) that this has been done." Read the full article. (via)
posted by lemonfridge (34 comments total)

 
That is a great idea, and I can't believe that I haven't seen it done before. This is a great way of showing off the modelling and texturing of a game's levels that screenshots don't convey nearly as well.

I look forward to the day when developers will be able to put out a smallish file that will allow the prospective buyer to (for example) explore a one-block area of a city in HL2 that I can walk around in, play with the physics and maybe see how some monsters move. I'm sure this could be done in a much smaller file than the nearly 1GB files that game demos require.
posted by GriffX at 5:52 PM on May 19, 2005


They used to do that. It was called a demo, and most of 'em used to be fully functional, save for a limited amount of unlocked levels. Many used to be designed to fit on a floppy, even. Games are just bigger now.

/wanders off to play the Descent 1 and 2 demos all the way through in record time with 100% "completion".
posted by loquacious at 6:15 PM on May 19, 2005


Half-Life 2 has added a component to my existence as a human being - something that, prior to experiencing this game, I did not know was missing. I cannot define it.

This game is precious to me, in a way that only a living, growing thing could be precious.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:40 PM on May 19, 2005


The profound thing about HL2 is it's ability to emulate the emotional state of living in a police state. The beginning 30 minutes or so of the game do a wonderful job of portraying that type of reality.

The strage thing about it is that the 'steam' system of verifying your copy of the game via the interweb (and promoting add-ons, other products and etc) does an even better job of portraying a world in which Big Brother is always watching, and how a slight glitch in the massive technical beaurocracy of the future can take away the things you love with nary the batting of a digital eyelash.
posted by wah at 6:57 PM on May 19, 2005


I don't know, Baby_Balrog. I found the experience itself amazing, but short (and what's worse, padded by vehicle levels), and the abrupt ending was a killer. It really destroyed the desire to go back and investigate more of the engine. Maybe you got more out of it -- do you play Counter-Strike, by any chance? (I do not.)

I do, however, know exactly what you mean. I feel that way about a little game called System Shock 2. I cannot comprehend with any part of my brain why people do not laud this game as the work of a god. Well, I at least cannot understand the huge lack of attention and appreciation, things that Half Life 2 certainly has received.
posted by jenovus at 6:57 PM on May 19, 2005


Anyway, germane to the post: I really like the look of the game, and these panoramics capture it well. If we could get interactivity as well, like GriffX mentioned, we'd essentailly have an engine demo, which would be more interesting but require an immensely larger fileset. I for one enjoy the smaller-scale, simpler expression of the surroundings. Plus tricking your brain into parsing a picture as 3-D is always cool.
posted by jenovus at 7:05 PM on May 19, 2005


As a non-player, I can say that the graphics are amazing and evocative enough that they suggest it could soon be possible to create a profound gaming experience that didn't involve relentless slaughter.

(I'll admit it: The killing, killing, killing wears on me.)
posted by argybarg at 7:29 PM on May 19, 2005


As a non-player, I can say that the graphics are amazing and evocative enough that they suggest it could soon be possible to create a profound gaming experience that didn't involve relentless slaughter.

or, better yet, even MORE relentless slaughter!
posted by jimmy at 7:55 PM on May 19, 2005


It would be cool if you could mess around with a game to see how it runs and works as Griffix notes above.

And I love panos like this. Never played the game but it seems like a no-brainer to let people explore a little bit this way. But then, the best ideas generally are no-brainers in retrospect.

On Preview: Why can't jimmy read? Because he's too busy fragging sprites! I'm down for the fraggin'!
posted by fenriq at 8:01 PM on May 19, 2005


jenovus writes "I feel that way about a little game called System Shock 2. I cannot comprehend with any part of my brain why people do not laud this game as the work of a god."

They don't? I don't know what circles you hang out in, but where I'm from every good fps gets the "how does it compare to SS2?" treatment. We keep old copies of the game pinned to our doorways and run our hands along it every time we enter or leave a house.

Regarding the panoramas:

1. very cool, BUT...
2. The QTVR stuff is a waste of time. If you go to the trouble to make 360 degree panoramic images of a world that you can normally only perceive in a 3 dimensional manner, that's cool. If you take those panoramic images and wrap them back up into a 3d representation that's less immersive than the original experience? That's kind of a waste. I mean, I could see people who don't know if they want to play the game using this to see what it would look like to stand in place and spin around within Half-Life 2. But I'd really much rather see the beautiful distorted spread of a panoramic image. Maybe that's just me.
posted by shmegegge at 8:44 PM on May 19, 2005


holy shit damn. You'll never have to go outside again with graphics like these.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:12 PM on May 19, 2005


I pretty much walked away from these games somewhere around Quake Arena and Tomb Raider 2. When the "full immersion" game developers come up with a way to entertain without senseless violence, give me a call. I see enough of that crap in the news.

Myst was cool.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:31 PM on May 19, 2005


I found the experience itself amazing, but short (and what's worse, padded by vehicle levels)

jenovus, I loved the entire game, but the airboat section is tied for my favorite part. (The other highlight is leading an army of chitinous horrors.) I do not consider it padding.

Oh, and the panoramics were very cool. Nice link.
posted by agropyron at 10:10 PM on May 19, 2005


I played HL2, and it was amazing. I recommend anybody who enjoys games and has a decent computer to don some headphones and immerse themselves in a truly exceptional game. Doom 3 was also great, but Half Life 2 won.

If you are thinking of a video card to buy, $200 or so gets you a 6600GT which would run HL2 very well.
posted by Dean Keaton at 10:13 PM on May 19, 2005


These look like crap compared to the game... The distortion gives me nausea.

Game companies should cater to the gamers who just want to look around. Create a new market for walk-around games.

I for one continue to welcome our fragging overlords!
posted by lorbus at 10:28 PM on May 19, 2005


No, not just walking around either. Neither slaughtering everything you see nor just walking around. A third way. Someone will do it well someday.
posted by argybarg at 11:11 PM on May 19, 2005


Game companies should cater to the gamers who just want to look around. Create a new market for walk-around games.

Heck that's what I did for several hours with GTA:San Andreas, just rode my bike around everywhere looking at stuff.
posted by bobo123 at 11:16 PM on May 19, 2005


I get the hyperbole, shmeggege, but the years of isolation from SS2 fans have been long, and the batteries in my sarcasm detector are exhausted. Were you funning me? If not, let us derail this thread and revel in the glory of the Many.

(/me flags self)
posted by jenovus at 11:19 PM on May 19, 2005


The bridge shot is incredible, it makes me feel dizzy.
posted by odinsdream at 11:24 PM on May 19, 2005


These look good, but having a fixed perspective in these panoramics means you lose the sense of the environments' depth and dimensionality that you'd get in the game.

Bungie has an interesting solution to this - they use Quicktime VR in a way that allows viewers to rotate around a fixed point in an environment, making for a surprisingly convincing preview of a 3D environment.

Here's an example.
posted by Fourmyle at 11:46 PM on May 19, 2005


Those who have a problem with senseless slaughter in videogames might want to try Thief or one of its sequels. It's widely described as a "first person sneaker" instead of a first-person shooter; not only is it possible to get through the entire game without taking a human life, but on the more advanced settings, you are required to get through it without killing. You should be able to pick up a copy pretty cheaply on eBay. (Sadly, it's PC-only.)

The same company that developed Thief went on to make Deus Ex, one of the few videogames I've ever seen that really wrestles with the moral issues of violence. It's hard for me to go into detail without giving away plot details, but it deliberately sets things up to make you question the morality of the usual videogame slaughter. (Deus Ex is available for both Mac and PC, although sadly, the sequel is PC-only at the moment.)
posted by yankeefog at 1:35 AM on May 20, 2005


SS2 is still the scariest thing ever to happen to me.

Even with full hacks I'm too chicken to finish the game.

[/girlieman]
posted by NinjaPirate at 1:35 AM on May 20, 2005


The bridge shot is incredible, it makes me feel dizzy.


Try falling off of it.

Aside from City of Heroes it's about the only game to give me vertigo.
posted by Mr Bismarck at 2:11 AM on May 20, 2005


I have yet to play HL2, but I will one day.

I have played and completed SS2 and will balance the comments hitherto in this thread by saying it was not particularly enjoyable. The interface was non-intuitive and detracted from the gameplay, the environments were not convincing, the plot dreary and the enemies tediously predictable. The only upside was that whichever level I was playing it on it was a bit difficult to kill things without getting killed yourself. The finale battle scene was difficult in a mundane just keep shooting way.

Like an uncomfortable turd, I just wanted it to finish and had no urge to repeat the experience. The antithesis of any HL game that I have played including the counterstike game.
posted by asok at 3:00 AM on May 20, 2005


Not to tout fanboydom, but I like these plenty.
I agree 100% with the notion that a nice level to play with the engine would promote this game further, as it is fun to do stuff other than blow up grenades under enemies' keisters. (really, it is)

specifically, I recommend DOG as a companion in that exploration.
posted by Busithoth at 4:11 AM on May 20, 2005


Try falling off of it.

The best part is hearing your own neck crack. :D
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:54 AM on May 20, 2005


As a non-player, I can say that the graphics are amazing and evocative enough that they suggest it could soon be possible to create a profound gaming experience that didn't involve relentless slaughter.

I would love that. I just can't get into that constantly-on-edge feeling of these kill-everything games. I remember back when I was into gaming, it was still text-based. I loved this detective game called Deadline. As limited as it was, it was still quite engaging and as you got closer to solving the mystery, it actually felt a little suspenseful. I always got killed, though. Since the rise of FPS, I've thought that a detective-type game would translate very well to the format.

Oh, and the panoramas are very cool.
posted by effwerd at 5:30 AM on May 20, 2005


argybarg: Ico for the PS2 approaches what you're talking about. Yeah, there's still some "killing" but it's just dispersing shadows, with no blood or guts. The object of the game is to save a girl. One of the most beautiful games I've ever played and one of the most enjoyable and emotionally engaging. Not coincidentally, it's just about the only game my fiancee has ever been interested in. She got to where she wouldn't let me play unless she was around.

They're coming out with a sequel of sorts, but it seems to be based on killing giants, so. . . so much for that.

(aside: with the new graphic capabilities on the PS3 coming up, Ico is the one game that I would love them to re-do, just to see the world more clearly)
posted by papercake at 6:02 AM on May 20, 2005



I pretty much walked away from these games somewhere around Quake Arena and Tomb Raider 2. When the "full immersion" game developers come up with a way to entertain without senseless violence, give me a call. I see enough of that crap in the news.


Senseless? Those fuckers were shooting at me first!
posted by graventy at 6:02 AM on May 20, 2005


Not only did they shoot at your first, but in fact invaded your planet and oppressed your civilization.

mmm, civilization(3).

--

One of the great things about HL2 is that the shooting is not senseless, but given a more profound purpose. And the antlions (think: starship trooper aliens) were pretty dang freaky too.
posted by wah at 7:46 AM on May 20, 2005


No, not just walking around either. Neither slaughtering everything you see nor just walking around. A third way.

Half-Life 2 did it a third way, or as close to a third way as I've seen. Sure, there's plenty of violence, but there are many non-combat situations in the game. You don't even have a weapon for a good twenty minutes, you just explore the jaw-droppingly immersive world. There are portions of levels where you're simply trying to escape your pursuers or avoid detection by enemy critters. There are puzzles to solve, most rooted in the mind-bogglingly believable physics engine. There are lots of character and extras to talk to (well, they do all the talking) and interact with.

Plus, when the violence does come, it's not all mindless shoot-'em-up. You can kill enemies very creatively (again, thanks to the physics system). There's even a section of the game where you can have some of your enemies kill some of your other enemies, thus keeping your precious hands clean!

It’s not a game to be lumped in with other first-person shooters. It’s cinematic, gripping, visceral, and astoundingly real, from the architecture to the voice work to the sound design. Brilliant on every level.
posted by notmydesk at 7:51 AM on May 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


And the antlions (think: starship trooper aliens) were pretty dang freaky too.

I loved pulling up next to a "thumper" and getting out to examine the dune buggy - the luminous green blood was done so well that if you walked through a puddle of it, then got back in the buggy, the pedals would have bits of green on them the next time you got out.

I remember the front right tyre being almost completely green from my, umm, "robust" driving style.
posted by Mr Bismarck at 9:59 AM on May 20, 2005


jenovus writes "I get the hyperbole, shmeggege, but the years of isolation from SS2 fans have been long, and the batteries in my sarcasm detector are exhausted. Were you funning me? If not, let us derail this thread and revel in the glory of the Many.

"(/me flags self)"


I would answer you, but I reinstalled SS2 once you reminded me of it and am now too busy cringing in terror and wondering where all my ammo went.
posted by shmegegge at 6:15 PM on May 20, 2005


YOU PERFORM WELL

FOR AN INSECT
posted by jenovus at 7:07 PM on May 20, 2005


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