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November 20, 2008 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Ten years ago Valve released Half Life, to the delight of gamers, modders, critics and people who hate cut scenes. Marc Laidlaw, writer for Valve, talks about the genesis of scientist turned crowbar wielding survivor, Gordon Freeman. Somehow avoided playing it in all these years? You can buy it on Steam for less than a dollar until midnight November 21st.
posted by Artw (86 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
HA! I just bought the Orange Box today and saw that offer on Steam. Too bad it 'rejected' my credit card.

There's still the MeFi TF2 server to check out, though.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:03 AM on November 20, 2008


HalfLife + LSD = one of the scariest nights of 1999. Headcrabs in the ventilation shafts, with your flashlight and a pistol? Holy shit, I screamed like a little girl.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:09 AM on November 20, 2008 [12 favorites]


The first Half-Life is still one of the greatest games I've ever played, and the second is right up there. A lack of free time and money, and the availability of many other games I want to play has kept me from playing the Episodes, but I will probably get to them at some point.

Portal is better than both of them though.
posted by Caduceus at 9:13 AM on November 20, 2008


I'm pretty sure that a lot of people-including most of the people here- weren't active in the Half-Life scene in 1999-2003 or so. What we saw at that time was something I'd never seen before and I have never seen since: a flourishing, insanely active mod scene.

Valve constantly updated Half-Life, adding new features and refining old ones, and was supportive of modding to a degree only previously seen with iD and Doom. The 99-03 HL mod scene was unlike the Doom mapping scene, however, because instead of a handful of BBSes and hacked-together IPX connections, we had a reasonably robust internet that was easy to connect to and myriad easy-to-create websites which kept track of things and where you could find or post mods. At one point, Planet Half-Life had a "Mod of the Week" feature, with a different mod every week. And these weren't just the little UI mods that come out all the time for World of Warcraft- they were often complex and imaginative warpings of the original game.

Most games get one or two mods, if any at all; they come out, a few mods are released, and that's the end of it. Half-life didn't stop getting new mods on an insanely frequent basis for years. The tools were easy, the developers were supportive, and for the first time it was incredibly easy to get your work out to millions of people who could play together.

That age is gone, and I suspect that it will be a long time until we see another; Half-Life 2's mod scene is healthy but small, and the upcoming iD release uses textures that, according to the devs, would take months of processing time on home computers to create. I'm glad I was there for it, when there was a healthy and thriving community, and new games to download and try on a weekly or even more frequent basis.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:14 AM on November 20, 2008 [12 favorites]


Portal is better than both of them though

I know what you're saying, Portal is one of the most singular games ever made, but there's an argument to be made about what you're looking for in a game.

HL and HL2 still amaze me in the way an FPS can make me care about the story. I heartily recommend the episodes. Ep2 really freaked me out at the end.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:19 AM on November 20, 2008


Slightly off-topic, but half life (2) related, this is a great article.
I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome.
posted by seanyboy at 9:25 AM on November 20, 2008 [8 favorites]


trey gnome blog.
LOL.
posted by seanyboy at 9:29 AM on November 20, 2008


You could also buy the updated version for $10
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:30 AM on November 20, 2008


I don't think I've ever felt as protaganized by a video game as I did in HL2. I'd actually start breathing harder and feel my heart beating faster as I scrambled across a rooftop, dodging Combine fire. It felt so much like I was actually living this character's ordeal that I'd be physically relieved when I got to a point where people weren't trying to kill me.
posted by EarBucket at 9:30 AM on November 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


Even if Half Life wasn't such an amazing game on its own (which, of course, it is), it begat Counter Strike, which quite literally changed everything; the attention paid to fan built mods, the way people cooperated in online games, the idea of having to wait to respawn after you died, the way the community came together in the forums to discuss game-play tweaks, that the developers actually listened to and implemented.

All of this stuff seems so second nature in online gaming now, but at the time, this shit was completely revolutionary.

It was a really cool thing to be a part of.
posted by quin at 9:32 AM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


There's still the MeFi TF2 server to check out, though.

There's actually two now, plus a Left 4 Dead server. Come out and play!
posted by Big_B at 9:32 AM on November 20, 2008


The tools were easy, the developers were supportive, and for the first time it was incredibly easy to get your work out to millions of people who could play together. That age is gone, and I suspect that it will be a long time until we see another;
I just have to mention that the in-game level editor in LittleBigPlanet has Stephen Fry telling you which knob to twiddle to publish your levels.
posted by you at 9:39 AM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I love the HL universe, particularly the way the narrative is conveyed during the course of the game, but I have to say I really, really hate the silent protagonist. Every time the NPCs talk to or about Gordon, and he remains silent it just kills the immersion for me. If the game provided a reason for his muteness (something the G-Man is doing perhaps), it wouldn't irk me so much, but it's never addressed.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:42 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Obligatory.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:44 AM on November 20, 2008


Can we talk about Left4Dead here instead?

Because it's fucking awesome, and I wanted to share that.
posted by empath at 9:44 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


> You could also buy the updated version for $10

Don't do it, you can't play any of the mods. Wait for Black Mesa: Source to come out instead.

By the way, Half-Life 1 is $1 until Friday.
posted by archagon at 9:47 AM on November 20, 2008


Pff, whoops. It totally says that in the post. I fail.
posted by archagon at 9:48 AM on November 20, 2008


The tools were easy, the developers were supportive, and for the first time it was incredibly easy to get your work out to millions of people who could play together. That age is gone, and I suspect that it will be a long time until we see another

In the case of HL2, one of the biggest problems is that the tools are no longer easy. A good friend of mine is one of the developers of Zombie Panic (one of the more popular mods for HL2), and his experience has been that the Source SDK is incredibly difficult to work with and was bug-ridden for a long time. Valve has been supportive in that mods can get distribution through Steam, but the SDK is still a bear to work with.

Games like LittleBigPlanet are easier to modify, but part of the success of a mod scene depends on having a very large user base. If the basic game is not very fun, people aren't going to buy it, which means there won't be the critical mass necessary for the next Counterstrike. One reason HL mods were so successful is that HL itself was one of the best selling games ever, even before Counterstrike took off.
posted by jedicus at 9:49 AM on November 20, 2008




Pope Guilty, I was sort of there at the time, though I was quite young. It was indeed amazing. I don't quite agree with this:

> Half-Life 2's mod scene is healthy but small

It's not that HL2's mod scene is much smaller than HL1's. The reason it looks that way is that a) Source engine mods take a lot longer to make, and b) Valve hired many of HL1's best mod teams and released the Source versions officially (TF2, DoD, CS).
posted by archagon at 9:53 AM on November 20, 2008


Portal is pretty much the kind of thing that would have been a mod if Vlave hadn't snapped it up.
posted by Artw at 9:58 AM on November 20, 2008


Want kind of requirements are needed for Half Life? I have an laptop with a half a gig of RAM from a few years ago. I guess at most I'd be wasting $1, so it doesn't really matter.
posted by yeti at 9:58 AM on November 20, 2008


I'd be shocked if it didn't run.
posted by Artw at 10:01 AM on November 20, 2008


It's not that HL2's mod scene is much smaller than HL1's. The reason it looks that way is that a) Source engine mods take a lot longer to make, and b) Valve hired many of HL1's best mod teams and released the Source versions officially (TF2, DoD, CS).

That's a good point.

Want kind of requirements are needed for Half Life? I have an laptop with a half a gig of RAM from a few years ago. I guess at most I'd be wasting $1, so it doesn't really matter.

You absolutely destroy the system requirements. Remember that the original was designed so that low-end machines could run it, and this was at a time when "low-end" meant "first generation Pentium".
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:03 AM on November 20, 2008


Also, you can buy every game Valve has ever made for a mere $99 here. It even includes their latest game, Left 4 Dead ($50 by itself), and a ton of user-created mods. That's an amazing deal, especially if you've never been exposed to Half-Life in its various iterations or Portal.

And as empath mentioned, Left 4 Dead is awesome.
posted by joshrholloway at 10:04 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Half-Life was the first game for me where I encountered good sophisticated NPC AI. Up until then I think the most sophisticated I'd seen were Quake 2 enemies. Maybe there was another FPS in between. I can't remember. All I know is that they played run-n-gun just fine, and sometimes liked to sneak up on you in pre-scripted sequences.

All of a sudden with HL I've got this goofy policeman following me. He takes a few potshots at a headcrab and goes "Yeaaah! Got one!" We meet up with a scientist in hiding, and they start gabbing on together about hopefully getting hazard pay for all this. I start quickloading any time the cop gets in over his head. He can't die! You can't die, Barney! Barney! BAAAAARNEEEEEEEEEEY!!

Then I get topside and the Combine comes after me, and realize that the standard hide-n-wait tactics aren't working. Those guys are ... throwing grenades?! Wait, they can do that? Grenades are now exploding all around me. Holy crap, they're trying to flush me out!

Nowadays that's pretty much par for the course when it comes to FPS funtimes, but back then, the first time I had a grenade lobbed at me to keep me moving was exhilirating. And a little bit annoying, I have to admit, since I was used to simple run-n-gun bad guys.

Thank you, Valve.
posted by Spatch at 10:04 AM on November 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


There's actually two now, plus a Left 4 Dead server. Come out and play!

I will, as soon as I can get this damn thing installed. It's been slowly edging along and taking up a whole CPU core for a couple hours, so it might be decrypting something.

And if it makes me install all updates I might not be playing until Sunday.

Curse you, bandwith-shaped student living broadband!
posted by dunkadunc at 10:05 AM on November 20, 2008


Half Life runs acceptably on my Dell Latitude D620 notebook with 512MB of ram. I think I originally played it on a friend's 400 MHz machine with 64 MB of ram.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:06 AM on November 20, 2008


If you're a fan of Valve's games, the Valve Complete Pack is one of the best gaming values I've seen in a long, long time.
posted by mhoye at 10:07 AM on November 20, 2008


There's actually two now, plus a Left 4 Dead server. Come out and play!

PC-only yes? No consolation for console-ers...
posted by papercake at 10:11 AM on November 20, 2008


I still remember playing HL1, wandering through the head-crab-invested underground complex, seeing a ladder leading down into darkness and thinking, "No way I'm going down there!"

Most games get one or two mods, if any at all

As someone who played (and loved) They Hunger Parts 1, 2, & 3 and lots of other HL1 mods, I'd say the Morrowind and Oblivion modding communities are/were comparable. There are Oblivion mods that completely rebalance every monster, item, and dungeon in the entire game, mods that replace every texture with a higher-res version, mods that completely redesign the landscape, transforming square miles of beautiful territory into amazing landscapes, as well as tons of new creatures, items, spells, dungeons, quests, etc.

Unreal Tournament also produced a mod community that was at least as productive as the Half-Life community.

People said the same things you're saying when we shifted from Doom-era games to Half-Life era, and they said it when we moved from Half-Life 1 to Half-Life 2 era: "Games are getting so complex that individual modders won't be able to keep up. We'll never see the same wealth of modding again." But they've been wrong so far, and I think we'll still see games crop up that inspire surprising communities of modders.
posted by straight at 10:13 AM on November 20, 2008


Like PopeGuilty and archagon, I too remember the amazing years of HL1's mod community. HL was one of the first games I played online (TFC; CS; hell, even a snowball fight mod) and it made me try for months to convince my parents to get a DSL hookup (remember back when DSL was rare and then we all had to get our "56k-4-life" tattoos covered up?). To think of all the calls that they missed every evening as I blasted away.

And I still remember the terror and anticipation of the chapter Surface Tension, one of the best portions of one of the best games ever. The helicopter sequence blew my "let's run through tunnels and shoot demons with a plasma gun" mind.

Honestly, though, playing HL1 and enjoying the mod community it spoiled the hell out of me. The vibrancy of the community, the array of mods, the relative ease with which newbies could be brought into the fold, both making and playing mods...all terrific. I ended up overlooking a lot of games in preference of playing the multitude of that cursed buzzword of the day, User-Generated Content. Screw Facebook, Myspace, flickr - bring back weirdo HL1 mods.
posted by burnfirewalls at 10:14 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


speaking of Half-Life mods, some fans have recently finished porting Half-Life: Decay to PC. Works with original CDs as well as the WON and Steam versions.
posted by xbonesgt at 10:18 AM on November 20, 2008


I'll echo everyone's comments about HL and HL2 being some of the best games ever made. As well their mods, official and others wise are some of the best. However, I would like to add praise for the Steam system itself. It was a little rocky at first, but now is an excellent, very convenient way to purchase games without DRM.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 10:20 AM on November 20, 2008


Spatch, thanks for reminding me not only of the great AI, but also those horrible ninjas. Those...horrible...ninjas. So many firsts.

I also want to call out the amazing physics of the game - it's subtle, but a lot of FPSes at the time felt floaty and incorporeal, whereas moving around in HL always felt solid and real, somehow. So subtle that it's hard to describe, but a huge impact in gameplay as it intersected with the realism of the rest of the game (yes, I said realism. If you say that you don't check for headcrabs in the locker room, you're a damn liar).
posted by burnfirewalls at 10:20 AM on November 20, 2008


Also, one of the oldest, highest-quality, and most wide-ranging modding communities I've ever been around is for Bungie's old Marathon series of FPSs (now free and open-source).
posted by xbonesgt at 10:22 AM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ooh, is that a Windows option I see there?
posted by Artw at 10:25 AM on November 20, 2008


As someone who played (and loved) They Hunger Parts 1, 2, & 3 and lots of other HL1 mods, I'd say the Morrowind and Oblivion modding communities are/were comparable.

Oh Jesus, They Hunger was incredible. The developers have been working on a retail Source-engine They Hunger since before HL2 came out, but god knows what's become of it. I expect it around the same time as Black Mesa: Source.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:29 AM on November 20, 2008


I also love Valve for separating the Source engine from HL2, thus allowing many Source mods to run if the player has any Source game - an unprecedented move, and one that hasn't been repeated since. I mean, it's almost not "modding" anymore - they're basically giving you a powerful and constantly improving engine for free.
posted by archagon at 10:32 AM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


That is to say "when Duke Nukem Forever comes out".
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:33 AM on November 20, 2008


empath, a-fucking-men! My wife and I work awful 12pm-9pm shifts at our jobs, and for the last two nights, we've broken multiple driving laws to get home as fast as humanly possible the moment we're free from said jobs to play Left 4 Dead.
Seriously, Valve can seemingly do no wrong. I love HL and episode 2, Portal is groundbreaking and amazing, and now Left 4 Dead... perfect! I can't think of a game that comes close to matching the level of intensity of L4D. My wife and I sit on the edge of the couch, shouting at each other whenever someone strays more than a few feet from the pack or when the next wave of flying, retarded-fast zombies come screeching over the edge of a rooftop to rain down violence on our heads. I bought L4d, Mirror's Edge, Gears of War 2, and Fallout 3 all within the last week, and L4D is the only one that's gotten any play yet. Playing it at midnight with all the lights off, playing old Johnny Cash records or even the score soundtrack for the original Dawn of the Dead (which I also just got on vinyl, yay me) is the most fun I've had in a long, long time.
posted by Bageena at 10:36 AM on November 20, 2008


I never understood the fascination with Half-Life 2. Sure, I didn't start playing it until The Orange Box, last year, but I don't see the wild acclaim. It's a FPS with a physics engine, and a bit more story than average. The story still isn't THAT good - I can think of multiple other FPSes that came out earlier than HL2 that had more story. HL2 seemed to be a couple minutes of other characters talking, something happens to separate you, then a couple hours of gameplay getting from point A to point B to meet up with those same characters again.

I just finally finished it last night, but I'm still not even sure what the story is, and nothing made me want to care. I suppose it's better than the complete lack of story for your normal ID game fare, but that's not much of a bar to hit.

I will go through episodes 1 and 2, but that's more for the achievements than anything else.

Portal, on the other hand, was pure awesomeness, and justified my TOB purchase.
posted by evilangela at 10:42 AM on November 20, 2008


The AI in Half-Life first blew me away--literally--during the sequence in which you open up the door to the airshaft that leads to the surface and Marines start rappelling down the shaft, shooting at you all the way.

I ducked back out of the line of fire and paused to think over what I'd do next...and all of a sudden I heard this "tink-tink" noise. I looked down at my feet and had just enough time to think "Hey, that looks just like a grena*BOOM*".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:42 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Alas, there is something about the HL engine that makes me motion sick. It doesn't happen with any other FPS games but if I try and play HL, HL2 or Portal I feel like I'm going to vomit within minutes. I was able to plow through Portal but only because the game doesn't require you to run around much.

So yeah, I hear Half Life and all its sequels are AWESOME!
posted by Sandor Clegane at 10:43 AM on November 20, 2008


"when Duke Nukem Forever comes out".

Ha! Yes! We’ll all be playing TF2 and listening to Chinese Democracy.

Hey wait…
posted by Artw at 11:02 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


^ turn up your FOV
posted by autodidact at 11:05 AM on November 20, 2008


I thought it was just HL2 that had the unusually narrow FOV?
posted by Artw at 11:08 AM on November 20, 2008


For those suggesting the Valve Complete Pack, do you know whether it's possible to gift individual titles to someone else? Or can you only gift the entire pack?

I already have about half of the titles but wouldn't mind picking up the other half if I could give away the extra copies of the ones I do have. The KB on gifting isn't clear about this, unless I'm missing something...
posted by [user was fined for this post] at 11:10 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you're a fan of Valve's games, the Valve Complete Pack is one of the best gaming values I've seen in a long, long time something you already own the best parts of.
posted by graventy at 11:18 AM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


[user], if it works anything like Orange Box did, it should credit you with extra copies that you can then gift. I haven't heard details, though.
posted by graventy at 11:19 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


You can buy it on Steam for less than a dollar until midnight November 21st.
Note: the front page says "Ends Friday, November 21 at noon PST."
posted by yz at 11:23 AM on November 20, 2008


Thanks, graventy. I found this, which addresses arrangements specifically for Orange Box titles (and a few others I don't have), but also answers "No" to the question, "Do any other games available on Steam work this way?"

So I guess that's my answer. Kinda sucks. You're probably right about me already having most of the better titles, but Left 4 Dead would certainly sweeten the deal a bit.
posted by [user was fined for this post] at 11:28 AM on November 20, 2008


Aw poops. Get it quick!
posted by Artw at 11:28 AM on November 20, 2008


All this talk of mods and no mention of Natural Selection? That thing nearly cost me my M.Sc...
posted by PenDevil at 11:32 AM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm still waiting for a Science and Industry 2. It was almost a wholly appropriate theme for HalfLife that just died.
posted by pwnguin at 11:36 AM on November 20, 2008


I think one of the major differences between the Half-Life and Morroowind/Oblivion mod communities is that the latter games really needed the modding to get better gameplay experience. Not that Morrowind wasn't interesting on its own, but it had far too many crude elements that needed to be corrected. Things like the Better Body mods (the original characters looked nasty), changes to animal behavior, and alterations to the way magic worked for the characters made a huge difference in the game, at least for me.
posted by happyroach at 11:38 AM on November 20, 2008


The sun is shining, the birds are singing. You are jumping happily from cloud to cloud. A cute bunny is jumping towards you, blocking your path. By pushing a button the whole world flips around and shows its dark side. The bunny is now an evil nurse who is trying to stop you from getting away. You headbutt her, clearing your path. The HL2 Flipside mod
posted by yoHighness at 12:11 PM on November 20, 2008


Happyroach, that, to me, is even more amazing. It's one thing when Valve makes a perfect game and gamers build more great stuff from that solid foundation. It's another thing when the gamers take a game that's fair, bad, or even unplayably buggy and mod it into something great. (Says the guy who managed to have fun playing through Ultima IX thanks to fan patches. Oops. I think all my gamer cred was just defenestrated.)
posted by straight at 12:53 PM on November 20, 2008


PenDevil: Oh crap, yeah. Natural Selection was completely out there and I still don't see any game like it to this day. Those that don't understand HL mods and think only of Counter-Strike has to check out Natural Selection.
posted by amuseDetachment at 1:03 PM on November 20, 2008


laying it at midnight with all the lights off, playing old Johnny Cash records or even the score soundtrack for the original Dawn of the Dead

The game music is kind of essential, though. How do you know when a tank is coming?
posted by empath at 1:09 PM on November 20, 2008


Check out the 1.0 Trailer for Natural Selection (start about halfway through). Yes, there is one person on the human side dedicated to setting waypoints for your teammates and dropping buildings, and yes that one guy is playing as if it was exactly like StarCraft (but with real players as the army), on the individual side you will get waypoints on your screen on where to go. The aliens gameplay are completely different with no leader, they act hive-like.
posted by amuseDetachment at 1:10 PM on November 20, 2008


Not being a big FPS fan I ignored Half Life until about four months ago, when after trying and loving Portal I noticed that I could download Half Life for cheap from Steam.

I'm still not a big FPS fan, but damn do I like Half Life.

longdaysjourney Matter of taste I suppose. I rather liked the silent aspect of Gordon. The game is a non-branching game, and I think that giving him dialog that offers you no choices would have broken the immersion for me. I found myself thinking my idea of what Gordon would be saying during the "dialog" scenes, and that the silent protagonist drew me into the game much more effectively than the dialog with fake "options" that is the norm for most Square games did.

Matter of taste of course.
posted by sotonohito at 1:11 PM on November 20, 2008


> speaking of Half-Life mods, some fans have recently finished porting Half-Life: Decay to PC. Works with original CDs as well as the WON and Steam versions.

Awesome! There's also Half-Life: Uplink if you want to play the entire GoldSrc series (although I hear it's not canon.) If you want to use the HD pack with HL, OF, or BS, use this fixed version.

> For those suggesting the Valve Complete Pack, do you know whether it's possible to gift individual titles to someone else?

Sorry, I hear it's impossible.

> I never understood the fascination with Half-Life 2.

Try the episodes! I felt the same way about HL2 (at first) but loved the episodes a lot.

In my opinion, HL2 isn't about the story. It's how the story is presented - the gameplay, the level design, the scripted sequences, the sheer amount of unique content. Yes, you're in a cheesy alien invasion flick, but you really feel like you're participating.


And now, a quick overview of two of my favorite HL1 mods:

The Specialists, an amazing multiplayer deathmatch game with stunts, slow-motion, guns, kung-fu, throwing knives... basically, every action movie ever in game form. The graphics really push the GoldSrc engine. There's usually one normal server with 10-15 players up and running. Don't join the roleplaying servers! Gameplay video.


Halfquake: Amen, the sequel to Halfquake. They're supposedly quite hard (unless you quicksave a lot, which the author highly suggests), but the environments, visuals, and atmosphere are vastly different from those of any other FPS I've seen - with the possible exception of cactus's Mondo series. I'd even go as far as to say they're more interactive art projects than games. (Also, they have nothing at all to do with Quake.)

Amen is the more polished of the two (and has a really neat soundtrack!)

A video of the first level. (Warning, contains spoilers!)
posted by archagon at 1:37 PM on November 20, 2008


I *loved* action half life, which was another very action-movie orientated mod. I’ve an idea most of the people involved moved on to Unreal though.
posted by Artw at 1:45 PM on November 20, 2008


Yeah, I have a Windows partition on my Mac just to for running HL2. Love that game.
posted by brundlefly at 1:45 PM on November 20, 2008


I used to play AHL, but TS is way better in my opinion.
posted by archagon at 1:53 PM on November 20, 2008


Aw, it tells me: "Your account creation request failed, please try again later."

Booray.
posted by OrangeDrink at 1:56 PM on November 20, 2008


I vaguely remember HL1 being shown at E3 in Atlanta in 1998. Unfortunately, we didn't keep the promo materials from Valve (although I think I still have some of the Pokemon schwag from the Nintendo USA launch there), but it was a great incentive to play the game when it came out. What a revelation! I think it set the standard for story-driven FPS games in such a way that most new gamers don't realize what a big step forward it was at the time.

As many hours as I've played games, nothing can compete for time spent playing with the original Day of Defeat mod, which was awesome! DoD:Source is a piece of dren in comparison.

In conclusion, come play TF2 with us! Or L4D for that matter. Both are fantastic games, worthy of the HL1 legacy. Or at least pick up Portal. So worth it!
posted by gemmy at 3:24 PM on November 20, 2008


>There's still the MeFi TF2 server to check out, though.

>There's actually two now, plus a Left 4 Dead server. Come out and play!


Actually, 4 currently running TF2 servers (if xorry hasn't taken his down), plus the Left 4 Dead server. Yes indeedy, and sorry, yeah, PC/Mac only. Like gemmy said, head on over and sign up if you want to get in on the fun.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:07 PM on November 20, 2008


Alas, there is something about the HL engine that makes me motion sick.

As was mentioned, it's probably your field of view (or FOV). In the last few years (after playing first person shooters since the Wolfenstein/Doom era), I've started to become sensitive to any field of view under about 90 degrees or so. In modern Source games (ie ones from Valve), you can enable the 'Developer console' under Options/Keyboard/Advanced. Bring up the console with your tilde key (~) and type FOV 90, then hit enter. That might just fix you up. Most games have some sort of similar command or option -- you can hit ~ and enter the same command into the console in Fallout 3, for example.

All this talk of mods and no mention of Natural Selection? That thing nearly cost me my M.Sc...

Mefight club has semi-regular NS nights. I haven't tried it thus far, but I think I might, now that I have a spanking new legit copy of Half Life 1.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:16 PM on November 20, 2008


I think I played every mod mentioned so far at least once, plus others (Scientist Hunt anybody?) but I spent many many hours playing Day of Defeat. I was even in a league, and a guild, for that mod.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 4:37 PM on November 20, 2008


empath: I keep the music low and the sound effects high. It's not the tanks that scare me; it's the haunting sobbing of the witch that I always see about two seconds before she's flying through the air to tear my throat out. ;)
posted by Bageena at 6:31 PM on November 20, 2008


How come I never played this game before? It's pretty awesome as much as I've played so far. The graphics are pretty good for a ten year old game, has this version been updated or is this what it looked like in '98. I just finished replaying an old favorite "Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight" which is only a year older than HL but looks and plays much cruder.
posted by octothorpe at 6:36 PM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think I played every mod mentioned so far at least once, plus others (Scientist Hunt anybody?) but I spent many many hours playing Day of Defeat. I was even in a league, and a guild, for that mod.

Ah, Scientist Hunt. That was about as egregious as the violence could possibly get. I remember the one level that was just an enormous room...

The graphics are pretty good for a ten year old game, has this version been updated or is this what it looked like in '98. I just finished replaying an old favorite "Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight" which is only a year older than HL but looks and plays much cruder.

There's been some minor updates, but this is what it looked like back then. It's built on a hybrid of the Quake and Quake 2 engines, plus a lot of custom modifications. (The HL1 engine is properly known as the "Goldsrc engine".)
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:00 PM on November 20, 2008


I went through and played the whole original HL game over again in Summer 2007, and there were some parts I'd completely forgotten about (and completely lost my timing for finishing). It's such a great game, and it really doesn't look as dated as most other 10 year old games.

First time I played it, my chin dropped every time one of the non-cut-scenes started up. Dunno how anyone could publish an FPS with cut scenes after HL, but, obviously, it still happens.

Great game. If you loved it a long time ago and the last time you played it was a long time ago, it's sooooo worth ¢99 to do it all over again. Re-live the rage at the man in the suit! I hate that asshole!
posted by Lukenlogs at 7:40 PM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just finished playing HL2 for the first time last night and it was amazing. I love how they made the outside levels look like some overexposed 70's Eastern European artflick.

Best shooter ever. I LOVED being Anticitizen One.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:19 PM on November 20, 2008


Like a lot of others here, I missed half-life and only played half life 2 because it came with portal.

I kind of wish the orange box had HL1 on it, because I would really like to play it but I don't have a PC to game on any more.
posted by flaterik at 8:43 PM on November 20, 2008


FROHMAN!

OK it's HL2, but Metafilter's own and all that.
posted by asok at 5:53 AM on November 21, 2008


I haven't used Steam before; while everything is served online there is an "Offline Mode" (which requires that you must at least initially connect to their server). Is there an option to download a game in an entirely standalone format (so that it may be, say, written to a CD)? (I'd like to be able to run this on a machine not connected to the Net.)
posted by yz at 7:54 AM on November 21, 2008


yz: there's a backup option in File->Backup Games. I haven't tried it before (kind of pointless when you can always just re-download), but that might work. I'm pretty sure Steam needs to connect at least once on the other machine to be able to run in offline mode, though.
posted by neckro23 at 8:54 AM on November 21, 2008


Half-life was revolutionary in so many ways. The gameplay was great, the AI was great, the graphics were great, the mods were great. But most of all, Half-life was the first major action game to actually have an immersive plot.

Remember the first level? You ride a train for five minutes, slowly going deeper and deeper into this mysterious underground complex. On the way you see the G-man for the first time. He appears many times throughout the game, but only for a few seconds, and you never know what the hell his story is -- until the very end of the game. The levels definitely progress: first you're doing your job, then you're dealing with this bewildering infestation of aliens, then as you gradually get a handle on what's going on the military appears and starts shooting the shit out of you, but you hear rumours of this team called 'Lambda Squadron' etc etc. Sure it's hokey, but this was new.

Remember how the first Quake started? You chose your difficulty by jumping into a teleporter, then you start shooting stuff. Remember Quake II? A killer cutscene with spaceships, but then you crash land, and then you start shooting stuff. Yawn.
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:57 AM on November 21, 2008


There's actually two now, plus a Left 4 Dead server.

WHAT HO CHAPS IT'S THE LIVING DEAD

Mippy Fact: The owner of that server is trying his damned hardest to get me to start playing Half Life 2. The last combat-based game I ever played was Streetfighter 2.
posted by mippy at 10:15 AM on November 21, 2008


Thanks, neckro23; since downloading the installer today I haven't yet been able to run Steam itself (firewall problems on a foreign computer/network) but if I can get things running I will try the option that you mention.
posted by yz at 1:54 PM on November 21, 2008


I'm beyond frustrated that they pulled the Left 4 Dead demo before I could download it... I want to try it before I buy it, despite my devotion to all things Valve.
posted by disillusioned at 2:58 PM on November 21, 2008


Damn. Seems like that was out for all of five seconds. Will there be another one?
posted by Artw at 3:30 PM on November 21, 2008


As with Team Fortress 2, there will be free weekends, no doubt.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:24 PM on November 22, 2008


Black Mesa Source trailer
posted by Artw at 9:30 PM on December 2, 2008


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