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Sharky Extreme : Industry Interviews October 16, 2010

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    Half-Life 2 Roundtable Discussion
    By Dilip "Klashe" Trivedi :  June 13, 2003

    SE - Were their any features that were in the original design of Half-Life 2 that you had to cut out because of lack of technology or not enough time?

    Josh - To tell you the truth, I don't think there was anything that we had to scale back on. I think story-wise we've done things where we've bring it back a little bit just because it's better for the focus of the game, making it tighter. We wanted characters that could come with you and emote and we've got that. We want real physics in the world and we've got that. And we have drivable vehicles and all these other things so in a lot of ways it grew to be more ambitious than when we started. Which has been really great. When we first started out, we never thought about vehicles. We were like "Well, [that] would never work." But we decided to try it because we had physics now and it worked really well. And suddenly, we had this other [feature] that we didn't expect [in] the beginning. And so, in some ways it grew to be bigger than we'd hoped. And that's been an odd thing because usually it works the other way.

    SE - You mentioned vehicles, which obviously weren't in Half-Life 1. Some people might compare that to Halo or maybe even Battlefield 1942. Throughout the development process, did you guys look at any other games and say "That would be neat to put that in Half-Life's sequel"?

    Josh - Well, everyone at Valve is a game player. We love to play games. We love looking at the other things out there. I don't think that we ever sat down and specifically said, "This is a game we want to emulate." But rather we sit down and say, "We'd really like to have these features. We'd really like to do these things. We think they'd be cool." And if other games have it that's [great] and if not then that's cool for us because we beat the market to it. But I don't think we've said, "These are things that we'd like to take and integrate." It's more like "Here's what we can do. Here's what we think will be fun," and that's what we're going to try to accomplish.

    SE - So how far done is all of Half-Life 2?

    Ken - We've got all the game laid out. We've got about half of it in gameplay testing. Half-Life 2 is designed along a pipeline scheme: we build the maps, we lay out the geometry, the physics elements which are important to the gameplay and then we go thru play testing until we have a whole area of the game that's fun, that runs, that does what we want, plays how we want it. Then it will go on to the finish art team that will lay down all the textures, put the lights in, and put the detailed props in. It's a very time consuming process. To make a game this rich, and a world this natural, we want to make sure first that it's fun and then go through and make it beautiful.

    SE - As far as story goes, where does Half-Life 2 take place in relation to Half-Life 1?

    Josh - I don't know how much I can tell you, so I'm going to be a little vague here.
    This takes place in the future. You're still Gordon Freedman. And there's a... how should I say this?
    The alien force that you had seen in the old game are still carried forward and you can see its effect on the world. Of course the G-man returns. You've seen the demo and it kind of goes deeper into the alliance that you formed with him at the end of the first game (or if you didn't you died ). But we also have some characters that tie the old in with the new. We have Alyx you saw, is the daughter of one the Black Mesa scientist, Eli. You saw Dr. Klanner, who was in the lab in the demo, one of the scientists from Half-Life 1.
    Half-Life 1 had scientists that were kind of faceless. They might heal you or do some other things, now we're saying, "We want those NPC's but we also want characters who are really their own characters." Like Alyx is her own character. You won't see fifty Alyx's in the game. She plays a very specific role. And the same with all the other characters like Barney [and so forth]. So a lot of it's going to be like that. More characters who mean more. Who aren't as droll as they were in Half-Life 1. Not just characters who tell you something, then run away only to get killed by a tentacle. These are people you have to protect. These are people who you want to come with you. They really add to the game.

    SE - One thing that I noticed while watching the demo was that Half-Life 2 was much more open, in terms of environment. Is Valve trying to convey a sense of the alien presence spreading, outside the confines of the Black Mesa facility and infiltrating civilization?

    Josh - The game really, kind of goes all around. But the thing is that we do not teleport the player like in other games where you go somewhere and the game stops and then all of a sudden you're in a new place. We want this to be a continuous experience because we thought that that was another thing that was really important in Half-Life 1. From the minute you started till the minute you ended there was this continuous flow. And people really liked that. For me, when I played the game, that was great. That's what I loved. So, you'll have a really wide array of places that you'll be going, but you'll be doing the traveling. And that's when the vehicles start to make sense. You'll have these wide-open spaces, but you don't want to walk across them. That wouldn't be any fun. But it's pretty fun to drive across them so in the one map you saw, we have this wide open [expanse].
    But it will give you little hints as to what was there before and what's there now. And that develops as a useful tool to push the plot forward.

    SE - Are their any major features that have yet to be implemented?

    Josh - No, the Source engine is pretty much where we need it to be right now. There's always optimization but we're already running pretty well. Now it's just a matter of cranking the game out. Putting in content and pushing forward with it.

    SE - And how's multiplayer so far?

    Josh - I don't know if we're discussing that yet.

    SE - You can't give us little clues as to if it will include Capture the Flag or Team Fortress?

    Josh - {smirks but stays silent}

    SE - Ken, Josh, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.

    Ken - [Our] pleasure.
    Josh - No problem.

    Page 1 Half-Life 2 Roundtable Discussion: Part 1
    Page 2 Half-Life 2 Roundtable Discussion: Part 2
  • Page 3 Half-Life 2 Roundtable Discussion: Part 3

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