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Gordon Freeman photo
Gordon Freeman

The 'is Gordon Freeman a character' debate continues with HBO's Looking

A mailman from the future
Feb 23
// Chris Carter
Last night's episode of Looking, airing now on HBO in its second season, tackled the issue of Gordon Freeman's enduring Half-Life legacy. Is he a character, or merely a construct? Preparing for a Halloween party, series ...
Half-Life 3 photo
Half-Life 3

Fan film shows Gordon Freeman battling boredom

The wait for Half-Life 3 is taking a toll on everyone
Feb 07
// Laura Kate Dale
The wait for some kind of news on Half-Life 3 has been tough for everyone. A story cut off midway through being told, a set of balanced gameplay mechanics going to waste, and a developer who loves to announce things that are...
Black Mesa: Source photo
Black Mesa: Source

Black Mesa-affiliated website broadcasts intriguing emergency message

Could this mean the full Steam release is at hand?
Jan 05
// Rob Morrow
Something's up over at (Black Mesa Research Facility), the website connected to the still-unfinished Half-Life remake Black Mesa: Source. On January 1, the site began looping an intriguing emergency bro...
Half-Life 2 photo
Half-Life 2

Smell the ashes while listening to City 17

It's like hearing Dr. Breen's own playlist
Oct 25
// Alasdair Duncan
I've been a fan of the various You Are Listening To... streams for a few years now. Initially, you could listen to the police banter of various North American cities while a stream of ambient and instrumental music played at ...
Half-Life 2 photo
Half-Life 2

How to reload your revolver in Half-Life 2 VR

I'm just glad it's a speedloader
Aug 23
// Brittany Vincent
Prepare for the future. As this Half-Life 2 video demonstrates, reload times in gaming may soon be based on skill instead of animation speed. In the video, reloading the revolver requires swinging the cylinder open, utilizin...

Super Source Bros. Melee

What if?
May 28
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
What if Valve made their own Super Smash Bros. game, but with characters from Dota 2, Half-Life, Portal, Counter-Strike, and Left 4 Dead? What if?!
Nvidia Shield photo
Nvidia Shield

Portal on Nvidia Shield next week, Half-Life 2 coming too

Okay then
May 08
// Brett Makedonski
Hey, have you played Portal before? It's supposed to be pretty neat. I won't spoil anything for you, but there's a lady that's really funny and she talks about a cake. On the off-chance that you have played it, do you wa...
Speedrun photo

This 20:41 speedrun of Half-Life is a joy to watch

It looks like someone is fast-forwarding the game
Apr 15
// Jordan Devore
Segmented or not, this record-breaking 20:41 speedrun of Half-Life is seriously impressive. But as mind-blowing and enjoyable as it is to watch without context, the more you read up on the run, the crazier it all seems. Take...
Valve photo

Valve could've been successful just doing Half-Life

'In retrospect, [Steam] was a great idea, right?'
Jan 03
// Jordan Devore
In an interview with The Washington Post, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell described the company's inner workings which have been the topic of discussion time and time again. Did you know, for instance, vacation time isn't tracke...
Challenge Scot! photo
A new week, a new challenge
This week's challenge takes place in Half Life 2: Lost Coast, in which I must beat the entire level using nothing but the famous crowbar. Freeman is pretty proficient in crowbar combat, but there are some enemies that even the mighty crowbar cannot defeat... If you've got any ideas for future challenges you'd like me to have a go at, feel free to leave them in the comments!

Half-Life photo

Black Mesa to be sold on Steam alongside free version

Developers now have full access to the Source engine
Nov 19
// Jordan Devore
Having already been long cleared for release on Steam through Greenlight, the team behind Black Mesa has now announced that Valve is allowing this Half-Life remake to be sold on the platform. That'll be happening soon in addi...
Valve's new games photo
Valve's new games

Valve database lists Left 4 Dead 3, Half-Life 3 teams

A breakdown of who's working on what
Oct 02
// Jordan Devore
Yesterday's discovery of Valve's trademark of Half-Life 3 in Europe didn't do much for me. This latest story, however, is an entirely different matter. The company's JIRA database for project management was publicly accessibl...
Half-Life 3 photo
Half-Life 3

Valve files trademark for Half-Life 3 in Europe

It's always something
Oct 01
// Jordan Devore
[Update: The trademark in question was removed from the OHIM website and is believed to have been a hoax, reports Valve Time. So goes the Half-Life 3 hysteria. For what it's worth, the game is seemingly in development, if Val...
You wish it was real
Will Half-Life 3 ever come out? I'm at that point where I've lost all anticipation. Still, exceptional fan made trailers like this give me a small glimmer of hope.

Office Chat photo
Another casual discussion from the Dtoid news room
In this latest installment of Office Chat, I'm joined by Jim Sterling and Jordan Devore to commiserate over Valve's seeming decision to prioritize Left 4 Dead 3 ahead of Half-Life 3. Plus, John Carmack has joined the team developing the Oculus Rift VR headset, but is anybody going to care anymore once the thing is actually in consumer hands?


So that's how the Gravity Gun works!

Another great short by Corridor Digital
Aug 09
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Speedrun photo

Speedrun: Half-Life 2 cleared in remarkable 1:27:51

Watch the record-breaking run in full
Jul 08
// Jordan Devore
You know it's a good speedrun when it gets me to let out an audible "Whaaat?" I lost count. Believe me when I say that this record-breaking Half-Life 2 run by the SourceRuns Team is a good one. Actually, I'm probably va...
Valve VA infographic photo
Valve VA infographic

Beautiful infographic charts all of Valve's voice actors

Mmm, that design sense
Jul 01
// Steven Hansen
I'm a sucker for a good infographic. You can take something ordinary and uninteresting, like a list of all 50 actors who have provided voice work for Valve's 174 characters, and make something magical. It becomes an adventure...
ARG photo

Surgeon Simulator 2013 ARG isn't related to Half-Life 3

People really, really want Half-Life 3
Jun 28
// Jordan Devore
Yesterday, word got out about a peculiar clue hidden underneath a statue in Surgeon Simulator 2013. This was part of the update that brought Team Fortress 2's Medic and Heavy to the game and, knowing Valve's history with alte...
Virtual Reality photo
Virtual Reality

Half-Life 2 receives Oculus Rift support in latest patch

Now with even more terrifying headcrabs
May 10
// Allistair Pinsof
Oculus Rift promises a richer, more immersive game experience, so pairing it with the monumental Half-Life 2 is a no brainier, right? Valve's Joe Ludwig has done just that, adding Occulus Rift support to the game. The Oculus ...

Nagging from Valve co-workers got MINERVA on Steam

Half-Life 2: Episode One mod
Apr 30
// Jordan Devore
Up until now, I wasn't aware of Adam Foster's highly-regarded Half Life 2 mod MINERVA in any real sense. The name sounds familiar, so I'm sure I had at one point or another come across it within the last few years, but I...

Seven more of the toughest games to run on PC

Apr 09 // Brett Makedonski
Metro 2033 (2010) By far the most popularly acknowledged omission from the original list was Metro 2033. It seemed like no one could get it running properly, no matter how impressive their hardware was. The exact reason for this is unknown, but most chalk it up to a poorly-optimized engine. Regardless, Metro 2033 wasn't a game that many experienced at full capacity. System Shock 2 (1999) Before its release, System Shock 2 was one of the greatest offenders of this topic. A top-of-the-line computer wasn't necessarily enough to play it; it required the user to manually change the number of active processors within the game itself, which is a less-than-ideal way to be able to play a game. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002) Morrowind was a technical achievement of the early 2000s, and the number of awards it won reflected that. The game's world was praised for being expansive and detailed. However, it's this same level of detail that caused it to run at a low frame rate for many players. It was somewhat ironic that what was supposed to be a source of immersion was just a source of frustration for a lot of users. F.E.A.R. (2005) Before Crysis existed, F.E.A.R. was the go-to example for famously hard to run games. It was the first game created on Monolith's LithTech Jupiter EX engine. The engine was very advanced for its time with regard to physics and texture-rendering. However, it came at a price. Jupiter EX wreaked havoc on most PCs as it was extremely resource intensive. EverQuest II (2004) As an MMORPG, it's not surprising that EverQuest II featured a lot of player interaction. However, when the game came out, hardly any computer could handle it without a drop in performance when there was a lot of action on-screen. Far from optimal for a title that puts such an emphasis on group battles. Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason (2009) You can pretty much throw your specs out the window on this one. Cryostasis isn't just difficult to run; it's actually considered to be one of the most poorly-optimized games ever. It's a shame too, as the psychological horror game seemed to put a truly interesting narrative on display, but most people couldn't enjoy it, as the technical issues were too much to overlook. Half-Life 2 (2004) Even Half-Life 2, a title that's included in every "best game ever" conversation, was tough to run on PC. However, this one wasn't the developers' fault. If you had a rig that was capable, this game worked nicely. It was just that it required some beefy specs at the time of release. [Image courtesy of pixelwg]
Tough-to-run PC games photo
From the community
A few months ago, we compiled a list of some of the toughest games to run on PC in honor of the release of Crysis 3. While each of the games listed were certainly troublesome, plenty of additional titles were mentioned in the...

Doom + Half-Life 2 photo
Doom + Half-Life 2

New mod adds Doom weapons and characters to Half-Life 2

No matter what, the shotgun is still your best option
Apr 02
// Jason Cabral
Have you ever asked yourself, "What if someone took the concept of fighting flat 2D enemies from Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard and put it into a much better game?" I know I have, and thankfully the modder Ghor has answ...
Half-Life 2: Episode 3 photo
Half-Life 2: Episode 3

Half-Life 2: Episode 3 announced

Not really
Apr 01
// Joshua Derocher
A Steam store page has appeared for Half-Life 2: Episode 3 and I'm sure it's totally legit. It's actually just a joke from CheapShark, but wouldn't it be funny if Valve really did announce it today? It being real would be the best joke of all.
Working at Valve photo
Working at Valve

Valve discusses its boss-less work environment

'[Gabe Newell] didn't want to be the boss of anyone or to be bossed around by anyone.'
Feb 26
// Allistair Pinsof
Valve is a company unlike any other in game development, but we knew this when we read its employee handbook last year. In an interview on University of Texas's EconTalk podcast, Valve's economist-in-residence Yanis Varoufaki...

Trends of this Generation: Gamification

Feb 19 // Daniel Starkey
The Xbox 360 got the ball rolling on gamification with Gamerscore. Sony and Valve added their own achievement tracking systems. Each of these companies, in one form or another began rewarding players for in-game accomplishments with a cute sound effect and a small bit of text. There’s a lot of commentary and discussion about whether or not achievements and systems to track them have been good or bad for the industry as a whole; there can be no doubt that Valve, Microsoft and Sony have some major precedents, creating, in essence extrinsic motivators for in-game tasks. “Gamification.” People devote quite a bit of time to explaining and trying to understand how achievements can be used to encourage certain kinds of actions for the player. Since the discussion began among academics and game designers, countless people have implemented these subtle psychological tricks into their systems and into their software, especially in the realm of social media. Websites like Klout and the prevalence of social games have only accelerated the spread of these techniques. Hell, Raptr even gamified games themselves.  Gamification is used to help add to traditional MMOs, free to play games, not to mention the potential real-world applications. It’s a big world out there. And, bit by bit, we’re turning it into one big game. I'll admit to falling into the gamification trap, to a degree. Earlier this generation I was steered way from Wii games because there was no way to track my progress and show it off to friends. I use services like Yelp to try to get some of the badges, and that encourages me to check-in everywhere and earn coupons.  These kinds of achievements are a sort-of sucker punch to our ancient monkey brains. They use little traits that we have picked up over the years to help us combat laziness. When we receive small rewards for things, we're more likely to keep doing them. It help keeps us engaged and active, and is a small safeguard against boredom.  The issue here is one that relates to a lot of free-to-play titles, in that players are drawn in, then kept there by manipulating the natural way their brains are wired. It is disingenuous and manipulative, but as I see more and more studios closing their doors or getting bought up by the juggernauts, I can't help but think that for many it's their only choice.  Achievements and such aren't universally bad, though. Valve, forever the innovator, has layered them into its games in ways that encourage exploration, unique ways of play or even using them to reinforce the events of a game.  For example, in Half-Life 2 there's quite a few achievements for finding random things. This is used to encourage more lateral thinking as well as exploration of the environment. In Portal 2 (minor spoilers ahead) there's a chapter called "This is the part where he kills you," a character that says "This is the part where he kills you," and right before "he" kills you, an achievement pops-up with the same message. Similarly, at the end of the game, there's an achievement called "Lunacy" with the text "That just happened." Anyone who has finished the game knows just how ridiculous that scene is, and having that little friendly sound effect accompanied by some hilarious text, only serves to reinforce the experience.  Achievements are something I guess I've learned to live with. I don't really like them, but at the same time, having some method of tracking progress on a website like Fitocracy has actually been pretty good for me overall. I've used gamification to my own advantage whenever possible and I feel like I'm steadily becoming a better person because of it. That said, I know now to avoid those products which I feel will try to manipulate me into investing more than I am ready or willing to.
Gamification photo
Achievement unlocked!
Leading up the possible PlayStation 4 announcement on February 20, I've been looking into some paradigm shifts we've seen over the past generation. This is stuff that will likely be with us for a while; these are things that ...

Dtoid Show photo
Dtoid Show

Half-Life & Portal Movies? Rayman Delayed? What MADNESS!

Also: The Destructoid Show is being weird and stupid again
Feb 08
// Max Scoville
What a bunch of wacky news today about the video games! There's the ongoing Rayman Legends debacle, with it being delayed for a multi-platform release, causeing devs and fans to speak out. Meanwhile, J.J. Abrahms a...

Can a Half-Life or Portal movie really work?

Feb 06 // Brett Makedonski
Valve is well-known for having developed two of the most highly regarded videogame franchises of all-time -- Half-Life and Portal. Despite the intertwining series’ seemingly bottomless well of lore, Valve took a somewhat counter intuitive approach to creating a robust, believable world. In an era when central characters have become increasingly chatty in efforts to enhance storytelling, Valve told stories through the sealed lips of silent protagonists. Much has been said about Half-Life’s Gordon Freeman and Portal’s Chell over the years, but it’s interesting to note how Valve has taken decidedly unique approaches to the exposure of each respective character, and how it affects the lasting impressions that the player is left with. Gordon Freeman, despite never speaking, is a very memorable hero. Valve’s decision to include his portrait on the box art of each game is a contributing factor, but the effect goes much deeper. Freeman’s legacy is cemented by the reactions of the world around him. Everywhere he goes, people marvel at his very existence. Leading up to the initial experiment gone awry at the beginning of Half-Life -- the player’s first introduction to Freeman -- Valve paints their intentions for Freeman with broad strokes through the various Black Mesa personnel’s acknowledgements of him. Specifically, the entire facility seems to hinge upon his arrival to partake in the experiment in the testing chamber. A lot of Half-Life is a “Lone Wolf” story, but once Freeman closes the portal to Xen and saves the world, these reactions are exponentially compounded, and rightfully so. Throughout the entirety of Half-Life 2, HL2: Ep. 1, and HL2 Ep. 2, it seems as if each new character met comes standard equipped with a glowing verbal exaltation of Freeman. Truth is, the praise is well-deserved. He’s the reason the world still exists (albeit, not under optimal living conditions). He’s the face of the Resistance. He’s the shining pillar of hope in a sea of despair. Throughout the entirety of the Half-Life canon, non-playable characters consistently rely upon Freeman. At all times, through Freeman’s very actions, there is both the implication and the very realistic realization that he is humanity’s savior. Not too shabby for a physicist with a crowbar. With Gordon Freeman, Valve has been able to develop a surprisingly deep character despite a complete void of dialogue and emotion. They have been savvy enough to create Freeman based entirely around one-sided interactions. But, to their credit, it works to perfection, and Freeman is rightfully regarded as one of the strongest and most recognizable characters in videogames. Portal’s Chell is an entirely different story. In spite of also being a silent protagonist, she differs from Freeman in that she may be the very essence of a forgettable character. Like Freeman, Chell’s legacy is also cemented by her surroundings. However, her environment is abandoned (save for a sentient robot), and her character development directly reflects it. If asked to name the identifying features of Portal and Portal 2, most would immediately default to the puzzles, GLaDOS, the turrets, or a handful of other core characteristics. Almost no one would actually describe Chell, the one facilitating the entire experience. The reason for this is that Valve has kept the audience relatively in the dark as to who Chell really is. Only through extensive research and minute details do we have an idea what her backstory is, and even that isn’t necessarily 100% confirmed. We aren’t given the opportunity to view Chell, except through the manipulation of portals. It’s almost as if Valve doesn’t view her so much as a character, but rather as a vessel for the experience to be had through. Instead, Valve seems to be more intent on telling the story of Aperture Science than the story of Chell. It would appear that, to them at least, the history of Aperture Science and Cave Johnson, and the scientific arms race to develop portal technology between Black Mesa and Aperture Science, were the important takeaways for the audience. Chell was just their way of getting those points into the players’ heads. Through similar means, Valve has created two drastically different main characters for their Black Mesa/Aperture Science realm. Gordon Freeman has most of the classic characteristics of a strong action hero, but remains unique enough that the players care about his saga. Chell, on the other hand, is almost completely nondescript. She is so entirely overshadowed by her charming and idiosyncratic surroundings that it’s easy to forget that she exists at all. Despite these distinctly different levels of character development, both franchises are universally critically-acclaimed and beloved by the public. It definitely seems as if all silent protagonists are not created equal. With Abrams pursuing  Half-Life and Portal movies, it almost certainly will require him to opt out of using a speaking lead role. Silence is too engrained into the very nature of both Freeman and Chell; adding voice would risk undoing the entire essence of who they are. At least one thing's for sure -- the dialogue will be easy to write. [Main image by Michael Shanks, for the short film When Gordon Met Chell]
Half-Life Movie? photo
It would require the hush-hush approach
With today's somewhat startling revelation that J.J Abrams and Valve intend to collaborate on Half-Life and Portal movies comes speculation as to how these movies are actually going to work. Specifically, the notion that Abra...


Half-life & Portal films are happening, J.J. Abrams says

"As real as anything in Hollywood ever gets"
Feb 06
// Allistair Pinsof
Director J.J. Abrams (Star Trek) and Valve are cooperating on film adaptations of Half-Life and Portal, with early ideas already being tossed around Hollywood. Abrams also dropped hints that a game collaboration might be in d...
Half-Life 2 photo
Half-Life 2

Half-Life 2 modded to include motion tracking

Simple source engine mod makes head tracking a reality
Feb 04
// Alasdair Duncan
I really want to get my hands on an Oculus Rift headset as soon as possible; all this talk about accurate and non-vomit-inducing head tracking is leaving me really intrigued. Modder Nathan Andrews has jumped the gun and...

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