Half-Life 2: Episode 1 won't actually require Half-Life 2 to play, Valve's explained, and although the game will be "four to six hours" long, marketing director Doug Lombardi reckons it's "markedly richer" in terms of content quality.
Basically, following the recent announcement that Half-Life 2: Aftermath would be known as Half-Life 2: Episode 1, and that a second episode is already in development, we sent off a few questions to Doug to make sure of some things. As always, he said lots of interesting stuff.
The change from Aftermath to Episode 1 was "simply a name change" he says, when asked about the shift to episodic content - which wasn't a shift at all, he adds, since "the format of episodic releases was decided before Half-Life 2 was made available".
Nor has the name-change meant any alteration to the content. "It is worth noting, however, that one of the benefits of developing an episodic game is that the team is able to produce more iterations of each aspect and flesh out each scene far more than in the production of non-episodic games. The result: Episode 1's complexion and density is markedly richer than Half-Life 2."
As for the recently announced Episode 2, it's "been in production for some time". "I promise it will arrive much faster than HL2 arrived after HL1," he adds. Well you'd hope so!
As to pricing and content: "For HL2: Episode 1 we're targeting four to six hours of new single player gaming plus HL2 DM and HL DM: Source for $19.99 - HL2 not required," he confirms. "For Episode 2, we're planning a similar offering at the same price."
And of course Episode 1 is due out on April 24th over Steam, with pre-orders and pre-loading options due beforehand. We'll be bringing you a review as soon as humanly possible, obviously. Thanks to Doug for answering our questions.