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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...
Sup, Holmes? photo
Watch Sup Holmes every Sunday at 1pm PST/4pm EST
Last Sunday's Sup, Holmes? (now available on iTunes) with The Stanley Parable creator Davey Wreden was an orgy of ideas. I know UmJammer Lammy, angry internet people, how narrative works in games as opposed to other mediums,...

Half-Life Mac photo
Half-Life Mac

Half-Life now available for Mac users on Steam

But you wouldn't know it by looking at the store
Jan 25
// Conrad Zimmerman
The original Half-Life is a landmark title for first-person shooters, so it's always been a bit of a shame that it hasn't been available for Apple users up to now. The wait appears to be over, as Cult of Mac reports that Mac ...

This is one incredible Gordon Freeman statue

He's even holding the alien farty thing!
Jan 21
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Gaming Heads latest in their Valve toy line-up is the one and only Gordon Freeman from the Half-Life series. The 1/4 scale figure comes in at 20 inches tall, and features the voiceless hero with his iconic crowbar and the ali...

Here's what Half-Life looked like a year before release

Look at those derpy faces!
Jan 09
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Half-Life, one of the most loved series in existence. It's a wonderful game, but do you want to know how it looked like in its Alpha state? Well here you go! The first video here shows off some tech stuff, while the second v...

Revisit Jurassic Park in this Half-Life 2 mod

We have a T. Rex!
Jan 03
// Chris Carter
My wife and I are huge fans of Jurassic Park, and watch it as much as humanly possible. Sadly, games related to the IP haven't really been all that strong since the 16-bit era, but it doesn't take much to get me to at least ...

Untold riches: The brilliance of Half-Life's barnacles

Dec 27
// Hamish Todd
Hamish Todd is a game designer and journalist. His article on Castlevania's medusa heads just made the longlist for the games journalism prize. You can find out about his game, Music of the Spheres, here. Some of the most fun...

NECA is making Half-Life 2 Gravity Gun replicas

Aw yeah
Dec 18
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Loved NECA's Portal gun replicas? Well you'll have another gun to add to your arsenal come Spring 2013 as the toy company is working on creating Gravity Gun replicas from Half-Life 2. NECA will only be making a limited amount...

The DTOID Show: Mass Effect 4, Source 2, & Adam Sessler

Plus: Stop cursing on the cyberwebs, CoDBloppers!
Nov 12
// Max Scoville
Hey gang! We're back with another steaming pile of gaming news for your brain-holes! A new Mass Effect game is in the works, and the exciting part is that it's gonna be running Frostbite 2. Black Ops II comes out tomorro...

Review: Black Mesa

Sep 23 // Joshua Derocher
Black Mesa (PC)Developer: Black Mesa Modification TeamRelease: September 14, 2012MSRP: Free I started playing Black Mesa expecting a completely faithful recreation of Half-Life. I was expecting the same level design and puzzles. What I found instead was something that felt very familiar, but it was also very fresh. Now, I know that there are some people out there who might think that it's crazy to try and alter anything to do with Half-Life, but don't run away screaming just yet. Black Mesa does an amazing job of retelling the story. The levels are the same, you start at the same point, and you end at the same point. If I were to sit down and tell you how I played the game and what I did, it probably wouldn't sound too different, as the same essence is here. It's like watching a remake of a movie. Even if two people watched different versions of the same movie, they still have the same experience overall. [embed]235479:45170[/embed] The above image is a top-down comparison of the the level "Inbound." They both have little crossroads, and some brownish-red stuff, but they look very different. The Source engine is capable of creating much bigger levels than the old engine ever could, and the developers wanted to incorporate that into the new Black Mesa Complex. It feels like a massive place now. Hallways are longer, rooms are bigger with higher ceilings, and outside areas are vast and expansive. It's not just empty space, either -- areas have been filled with extra rooms, more weapon stashes, and more bad guys to fight. While some things have been expanded on, other have been streamlined such as the level "On a Rail". This level is shorter and it require much less backtracking. The puzzle solutions are also a little bit different, too. Anyone who was hoping to blast through this because of how well they know Half-Life might have to stop and think for a bit here and there. I'm not going to dive into anything that could spoil the game for you, but I will say that the changes are well done and they fit the spirit of the original. Black Mesa has a lot to live up to, and it does an admirable job. The graphics look great, but the seven years in development make it look somewhat dated. The new voice acting sounds way better than the old digitized voice clips. Excluding a couple of moments where the frame rate dropped down drastically, the gameplay is otherwise smooth. At one point late in the game, it's almost unplayable for half a minute. Another annoying thing is the way jumping works: they tried to correct the insane old-school jumping mechanics by replacing it with a different (yet equally insane) method of jumping where you always have to press crouch and jump at the same time in order to get around.  If you have never played Half-Life, you owe it to yourself to check out Black Mesa. It's a faithful recreation of an amazing game. You'll get the feeling and story of the original, but you won't have to try and play a 13-year-old shooter to do so. If you have played Half-Life before, you should still go play Black Mesa. It's a fresh take on a classic that's the closest thing you'll get to feeling like you're playing Half-Life for the first time again. No matter what level of experience you have with Half-Life, this is worth playing. It's a brilliant tribute to one of the greatest videogames ever made, and it's also a good game in its own right.

Half-Life is a great game, but it's been over ten years since its release. What if Half-Life were made in 2007 instead of 1999? Black Mesa is a re-imaging of Half-Life using Source, the engine powering Half-Life 2. ...


The DTOID Show: Halo, Revengeance, Half Life 3, & DmC

Sep 21
// Max Scoville
Hey everybody! I'm back from my travels in the far east to host another fine episode of The Destructoid Show. Today we talk about a random rumor about Half Life 3 being open world, Tara runs down what's new in Halo 4, Metal G...

Rumor: Half-Life 3 is open world, coming after 2013

Quests and NPCs alleged
Sep 20
// Jim Sterling
An ANONYMOUS SOURCE has told Journaldugamer that Valve's highly anticipated Half-Life 3 will take a dramatic break from the traditional linear progress featured in past games. According to the latest gossip, Gordon Freem...

Impressions: Black Mesa is awesome

Sep 15 // Joshua Derocher
While the new visuals are nice, the worst thing about the old game is the sound. When people talk to you, it sounds like they are trapped in a digitized static machine on a planet filled with static monsters. It's pretty bad. Now the dialog is clean and rerecorded. The delivery and inflection matches the original so well that it's uncanny. The gameplay is updated slightly as well. I would have never noticed if I hadn't gone back and played the old game right before playing the remake. It's just enough subtle tweaking to make the controls feel fresh. Old shooters just have this weird feeling where you feel more like a floating camera and less like you are walking around in the world. Black Mesa feels like a modern game. Don't read into this as they changed everything and made it totally different. It's true to what the game is and it doesn't change how Half-Life plays; it just changes how it feels. I'm guessing that 80% of the people who play this won't even notice any difference in the controls.   The only flaw I've noticed so far is that the loading times can be very slow at points. It's not game breaking, but it is annoying. Hopefully this is something that can be addressed in the future. You can grab the game for yourself for free right here. Black Mesa has also been Greenlit on Steam, so it might be available soon from there as well. Stay tuned for a full review early next week!

Black Mesa is now available, I am playing it, and I can tell you that it's awesome. It is an amazing recreation of the original Half-Life with updated graphics and sounds. We'll have a review up soon. In the meantime, here's...


Time to bash some headcrabs: Black Mesa is now available

Sep 14
// Allistair Pinsof
Black Mesa, the long awaited and long delayed Half-Life fan remake done in the Source engine is now freely available on the developer's website. Don't worry, I checked and it's not a link to a Rick Astley video. I can't belie...

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