Gordon Freeman - it is you, isn't it?
December 31, 2014 10:35 AM   Subscribe

In 2007, Ross Scott began a new video series, Freeman's Mind. "Basically the premise is that in the Half-Life series, the protagonist Gordon Freeman is entirely silent the whole time. So what this series aims to do is fill in the silence with his thoughts." Seven years and 68 episodes later, the project is complete. posted by Frayed Knot (31 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
This went up on @notch's Twitter feed earlier today. I would have posted this, but I had trouble getting through to the Accursed Farms website to see it, and it hadn't made YouTube yet. (I probably would have felt like I had to link every episode individually, too. Heh.)
posted by JHarris at 10:53 AM on December 31, 2014

way to get my hopes up, FPP headline.
posted by xbonesgt at 10:57 AM on December 31, 2014 [18 favorites]

what a great concept, not to mention the simple fact the project was actually completed!

but after trying to watch a couple of the videos... I just can't. the guy's voice is not simply unfortunate, it is beyond-annoying and awful. I don't mean to say I have any preconception or idea of what Gordon Freeman would sound like, just that the voice in these videos makes them completely unbearable. which is too bad because I would like to watch them.

(I did not allow myself to be fooled by the headline)
posted by dorian at 11:15 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

(paraphrasing from memory)

"Wow, it's like this place was designed by some kind of evil scientist....

...I always wanted to be an evil scientist.




Okay, I'd better stop, don't want a repeat of Monday."
posted by JHarris at 11:17 AM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

(also, I would donate good money for some narration of blueshift with a halfway-decent voice-actor ... man, Barney is awesome, evenmoreso in HL2)
posted by dorian at 11:23 AM on December 31, 2014

Seems like whenever I hear about Freeman's Mind I think, "I don't have time to get into all this" and instead I end up watching Quarter-Life: Halfway to Destruction for the nth time.
posted by komara at 11:28 AM on December 31, 2014

This is pretty great, thanks! Gotta admire the guy's commitment.

His voice doesn't bother me at all, personally. Maybe because I knew a guy in real life who sounded exactly like that and he was a pretty decent fellow.
posted by narain at 11:29 AM on December 31, 2014

Does he at some point reminisce about his days at the LHC?
posted by sammyo at 11:53 AM on December 31, 2014

Wait, people prefer Quarter-Life over Half-Life: Full Life Consequences?
posted by narain at 11:56 AM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

What are the odds of HL3 being announced with the 2015 Steam Machine/controller release? I'd say it's my "gut feeling" that they're going to announce it as a mic drop alongside the box's release, but really that's just a hope that could easily be dashed to bits, leaving me huddled in a corner and crying.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:11 PM on December 31, 2014

What are the odds of HL3 being announced with the 2015 Steam Machine/controller release?

Well, if you add
and rearrange the letters (in the obvious fashion), you get
posted by Wolfdog at 12:27 PM on December 31, 2014 [10 favorites]

I assume I don't have to explain the significance of DEFFFHI.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:28 PM on December 31, 2014 [15 favorites]

I assume I don't have to explain the significance of DEFFFHI.

I'm actually offended that you would think we didn't know already. I mean, seriously.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 12:57 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

What are the odds of HL3 being announced with the 2015 Steam Machine/controller release?

I wouldn't be surprised if they're holding the Steam Machine/controller back for this. There's not really any other explanation for why it's taking them so long to release it. I don't believe it's unintentional -- Valve might have some institutional blind spots, but they're still one of the most staggeringly competent companies in the biz. They know they need to make a big splash for the HL3 announcement.

My other theory is that Valve is in the middle of major feature creep because they want HL3 to be the first fully VR FPS.
posted by neckro23 at 1:41 PM on December 31, 2014

I made more effort to watch some of the first episodes and some of the final ones, and still just viscerally ick. it's not simply the voice, it's the combination of that and the "acting" (and can't even figure out what degrees/aspects are deliberate or not, but either way it doesn't feel comedic or creatively-stylized) - and I am surprised that after (commendably!) spending 7 years producing these, there's absolutely no noticeable change/improvement in either?

but I can understand it being more acceptable through familiarity - if there was an actual Freeman voice/style that we'd all already gotten used to, or, sure, personally knowing someone who speaks/narrates like that, or even just previous exposure to the guy's other videos or something.

stepping over into the derail-side:

I've been feeling more and more belief we're either going to get Portal3 or we're going to get ~Portal3~HL3~, but probably never an actual-HL3. it's like they got this new huger fan base from the disney-fied aspects of Portal2, vs the old dedicated HL/HL2 fans. but I love-love-loved the traveling back through history / past-aperture-mythology parts.

agreed, the VR/rift stuff also seems to be one of the more sensible explanation for delays (not that they've ever needed sensible ones.)

also I realized I never actually played Black Mesa Source (waited so long for it, that somehow I missed the release a couple years ago?!) - so I'm installing that right now, yay!

can't believe it's taking so long (almost a year now?) to get steam machines out, and the controller still looks like the most finicky thing ever, although the most recent iteration seems to be more sensible. but seriously, just ship the best controller on the planet (360 wired!) and be done with it.
posted by dorian at 2:25 PM on December 31, 2014

You are aware that the voice is an act Dorian?

He's playing Freeman as a narcissistic psychopath because in a first-person shooter, it really is all about you! Oh, and killing everyone you meet is the solution to all your problems.
posted by pharm at 2:40 PM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

that's what I tried to state - if it's deliberate / in-context, yes it's quite (overly) obvious of the effect being tried for, but in that case especially, to my feelings, the "character" or whatever-it-is, is even more poorly done than if it was not deliberate (in which case I would actually have more sympathy for the attempt)
the psychopath part is hardly clever or a revelation, but much-improved acting could have made it work really really well and hilariously.
the writing itself wasn't exactly super brilliantcreative, but it didn't have it be - it was decent, better than adequate, plus the fact of very good understanding of the context, giving the accessible/comfortable feeling to the intended audience.

sorry, I guess I am just saddened by disappointment - I was quite happy to read that such a project existed, but hopeful for a lot more. I understand everyone enjoys different comedic styles.

I should probably try to watch some of his other unrelated videos, to see if there's any difference in actual/RL-voice or some other acts or something.
posted by dorian at 3:03 PM on December 31, 2014

Well, I liked it.
posted by JHarris at 3:31 PM on December 31, 2014

Ha, I remember these. If you're familiar with HL's alternative ending, I recommend watching the very end of #68.
posted by Quagkapi at 4:47 PM on December 31, 2014

This series has been one of the truly great creations of game fandom. I will miss it so damned much, and the only thing I can hope for (though I would totally understand if, after spending 7 years creating more than 10 hours of quality comedy playing through HL1, he's not up for it) is that he might tackle one of the HL1 expansions or HL2.

But 7 years is a looong time to do something (even though he has lots of other projects), so I won't resent it in the slightest if he decides the HL thing is done and dusted.

Thanks, Ross, truly -- your stuff has kept me laughing for 7 years, and that's more than I can say about almost anything. (And since you've spent all that time wading through the cesspools of the youtube-comment brigade, if you ever see this thread, I'm sure you'll be able to take dorian's super-substantive criticisms above for what they're worth). I've donated before, and am going to do it again today.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:48 PM on December 31, 2014 [5 favorites]

Sad to see this completed, but happy that it was completed. I've been following on and off since 2007. It definitely has flaws, but it does a lot of things right and makes me at least chuckle most of the time. Curious to see what other work Ross gets up to -- Game Dungeon is amusing, and it sounds like he must have some other things in the pipe.
posted by Alterscape at 5:32 PM on December 31, 2014

RE: Freeman's Mind. I had also been watching it since 2007 and it's weird that it finally got completed. I fell off on keeping up with it every time Ross dropped it. At least he finished it before...half life 3.

As to why HL3 hasn't shown up, my guess is like 2 years after HL2: Episode 2 shipped they had episodes 3 and 4 kinda midway when they burned out on the series and decided to do Portal 2 and other projects. If they came back to it, they either had to rebuild everything from scratch, or try to bring what was part of Episodes 3 and 4 up to modern standards. And I'm guessing in the middle of that, as they were working on it, the Source 2 engine started coming along, and all the work they put in would have to be majorly redone, so they stopped working on it waiting for Source 2 to be up to snuff.

Now if I worked there, I'd be on that nonstop.
posted by hellojed at 7:21 PM on December 31, 2014

I've been thoroughly enjoying Freeman's Mind since the beginning (well, not quite the beginning ... I think he was up to episode 7 when I started watching). I am so impressed (and, honestly, a tiny bit sad) that he's finally finished! Great job, Ross! I look forward to binge-ing the whole thing sometime soon.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 7:24 PM on December 31, 2014

I like watching "Freeman's Mind." It's really good IMHO. But I can't shake the feeling that it's Ray Romano commenting while he plays half life. Kind of a "Everybody Loves Freeman" vibe.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 8:59 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Aliens, come out to pla-i-ay!
posted by homunculus at 9:50 PM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


So, I hadn't seen an episode of Freeman's Mind in years up until today. Probably stopped somewhere in the late 20's or so, not out of any sort of boredom so much as just a casual drifting. Saw a link today that the show had finally finished and was elated to hear that it was in fact done. So jump back in, watch a few random later episodes, until I noticed the gradual shift in Gordon's character: from a neurotic schmuck into a delusional megalomaniac who, from a cocktail of morphine and PTSD, can no longer tell whether the humans he's killing are actually humans or just idiotic simulacra (aka AI in some failed eventual dimension) or if the voices he's hearing in his head are just manipulative ghosts leading him to either Godhood or death, or some option in between. Not to mention his fetishistic interest in switches. And maybe Eddie.

posted by SomaSoda at 10:16 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

the only thing I can hope for (though I would totally understand if, after spending 7 years creating more than 10 hours of quality comedy playing through HL1, he's not up for it) is that he might tackle one of the HL1 expansions or HL2.

I hope he at least does the opening of HL2 so we can hear his reactions to Alyx, Barney and Kleiner.
posted by homunculus at 10:24 PM on December 31, 2014

I was jazzed to see him whipping through Xen, and it's amazing that he's actually finished.

If you're jonesing for more Ross Scott, he's also done a very funny series, with Craig Mendel, called "Civil Protection". It's a series of standalone videos about two beat cops in City 17. Here's a good one to start with.

And if you want a comedic take on HL2, why not (re-)read Mefi's Own notmydesk's Concerned?

(BTW, dorian, sounds like you've given the series the old college try, and no one can ask for more than that. But it also sounds like you were kind of expecting it to be The Gordon Freeman? Because it's pretty much the opposite of Silent Hero Freeman. It's a huge riff on "What if Gordon Freeman was a huge and very talkative asshole?")

As for Valve, with their unusual co-operative management structure, projects have to be internally popular to get done. So my guess is that HL3 has never gotten enough internal support, and it's not a structure where they can say "We're doing this, you you and you get to work on it."
posted by zompist at 11:32 PM on December 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

I loved this series.
posted by nj_subgenius at 1:42 AM on January 1, 2015

last night I did go and watch some Game Dungeon videos (thanks, Alterscape for the starting point) - hilarity! they were all quite familiar, I must have already seen them via some much earlier post on the Blue. those, I'm still not exactly drawn to go watch more, but I found much more enjoyable.

zompist - thank you for trying to understand, I know I haven't been quite as clear as I could be. I certainly wasn't expecting 'The Gordon Freeman', I was in fact expecting something more or less along the lines of what this is, I just didn't realize it was That Same Guy From Those Game Reviews (otherwise my expectation of the narration would have changed, but my expectation of the content would not have), and I felt let down by the execution not the concept. and again, his commitment over time is beyond-admirable.

the idea itself is great, b/c hl1 is definitely closer to the doom-side-of-the-spectrum where shit is permanently messed up 700% of the time, the character almost has to be on a psychotic break by default; and is totally the same kind of internal pondering/monologue I feel when playing*. given the nature of hl1, I don't think it would even be possible to narrate some sort of deadpan/serious version of Freeman. or if it were, it would be pretty boring. Ross' videos are obvs not my cup of tea, but at least they're not boring!
*(in fact, when I was finally playing Black Mesa earlier, after my initial shock of "ooooooh, I remember this place!!! except now it's sooooo shiny and pretty!", I was pretty much back in that same state)

and, even polished and better storytelling/humanized as hl2 is, it still retains a lot of that starkness, e.g. my absolute favorite weapon of all games of all time, is using the "Dark Willow"/evil gravity gun to fire the mangled, lightning-charged corpses of soldiers at bunches of other soldiers. sure, there's a lot of these dudes, but jeez you're a scientist surely the application of this device could be used non-lethally, or plan ways to get around the soldiers etc.

maybe. but it is simply TOO. MUCH. FUN. to pull one enemy into the gun and then mow down all of his friends. and yet my brain asking all the while, did you really need to do that? well, no, probably not. ok, but did you want to? uh, yeah. why? shut up, brain, I am going to asplode this entire city and you are going to like it.

Oh boy, killing Combine?! That's where I'm a Viking! er...
posted by dorian at 3:08 AM on January 1, 2015

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