Half-Life 2: Episode 1

Spotlight

FeatureValve's Doug Lombardi

Chatting about Portal and whether Orange Box will return.

The Orange Box

We pit EA's port against PC and 360.

FeatureOpening the Valve

Part 2: On Warren Spector, Alyx, and the importance of playtesting.

FeatureOpening the Valve

Gabe Newell and co. on Hollywood, Episode One and future expansions.

Key events

Chet Faliszek has left Valve

Portal and Left 4 Dead writer runs out of Steam.

Chet Faliszek has brought his 12 year career at Valve Software to a close, our sister site GamesIndustry.biz has revealed.

Images of Junction Point's cancelled Half-Life 2 episode reveal a snowy Ravenholm

There was once a plan to flesh out Half-Life 2 with multiple episodes. Valve itself created Episode One and Two. It announced a third. But this third episode, and others from other developers, failed to materialise as Half-Life 2 follow-ups were lost to the sands of time and became myth.

One of these non-Valve developed episodes was once in the works at Junction Point, the studio founded by legendary game maker Warren Spector (Deus Ex, System Shock). Spector has spoken of this before, telling Game Informer Junction Point was working on an episode "that would fill in one of the gaps in the Half-Life story".

Junction Point's episode involved a new tool called the Magnet Gun. Here's Spector:

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Former Valve employee is suing the company for $3.1m

Alleges developer exploited minors for free labour, discriminated against transgender staff.

A jury ruled in favour of defendant Valve on 2nd November 2017, finding the plaintiff was not discriminated against for transgender or disability reasons, nor dismissed for such.

Valve-approved Half-Life 2: Update headed to Steam

Valve-approved Half-Life 2: Update headed to Steam

Combine it with the main game.

A new fan-made mod, Half-Life 2: Update, will be released for free on Steam tomorrow.

The Valve-blessed add-on brings improved lighting, effects, textures and bug fixes to the first-person shooter classic.

This will be the final version of Half-Life 2: Update, which was previously made available in earlier forms outside of Steam.

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FeatureMinerva matter: The Half-Life 2 mod that opened the gates of Valve

Adam Foster's two-and-a-half-year job application for the world's most enigmatic game developer.

Adam Foster tells me he's "faintly terrified" by the response to his old Half-Life 2 mod Minerva being released on Steam. Tens of thousands have downloaded it in a couple of weeks and he didn't expect that, he insists. But then he also didn't expect the chain of events that unfolded after he first released Minerva back in 2005. Back then he worked for the European Railway Industry doing web development and programming. Today he talks to me from within the hallowed walls of Valve.

Gabe Newell named as next AIAS Hall of Famer

Oh they'll induct anyone have they no standards etc..

Such is his influence on the world of videogames and computing that it's a wonder Gabe Newell hasn't been inducted into the prestigious Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame already. This coming February at the 2013 D.I.C.E. summit will be his moment.

If there's one question Valve must be sick of hearing it's this: where is Episode 3? No-one's saying anything - not yet. But inquiring minds might find their own answers by playing through the preceding two episodes.

Half-Life 3 fan campaign staging mass gameplay session

Half-Life 3 fan campaign staging mass gameplay session

Up to 29,000 gamers to play Half-Life 2 this Saturday.

A fan campaign designed to encourage more Half-Life information from developer Valve plans a mass gameplay session this Saturday.

Steam group A Call for Communication (Half-Life), which boasts more than than 29,500 members, has organised a huge Half-Life 2 play session this weekend, designed to raise awareness of its campaign by boosting the game up Steam's most-played list.

The fan collective aims to encourage information from Valve on when the Half-Life series might return, be that in the form of Half-Life 2: Episode 3 or a fully-fledged Half-Life 3.

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Why Chet Faliszek is Valve's Mr Awesome

"I walk around the hall with my iron fist."

On Valve's website sits a profile page, and on that profile page sits an entry for Left 4 Dead writer Chet Faliszek. It reads: "We are all still trying to figure out exactly what it is that Chet does at Valve, but at the very least he occupies office space on the 11th floor as self-proclaimed Mr. Awesome."

Steam Cloud to launch this week

Steam Cloud to launch this week

Centralise game data starting with L4D.

Valve has announced that Steam Cloud will launch this week.

Steam Cloud, announced at the end of May, centralises configuration data online so that you can access your controller and multiplayer settings (like spraypaint images for Counter-Strike) from any computer.

In future, Valve intends to centralise save-game data - the idea being that you could delete a Steam game and all its files and still be able to pick it up from the same spot, on any computer, years later.

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Chunky Orange Box PS3 patch released

Chunky Orange Box PS3 patch released

Should remedy many of the problems.

EA has sneakily released a beefy patch to address problems with The Orange Box on PS3.

The 1.10 update is 128 MB, and unhelpfully has no associated documentation to outline the changes.

Early reports suggest friends not appearing on lists and certain accounts not connecting to the EA servers should no longer be a problem.

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FeatureValve's Doug Lombardi

Chatting about Portal and whether Orange Box will return.

On a recent trip to Germany to see Left 4 Dead, of which more soon, we sat down with Valve's VP of marketing Doug Lombardi to talk about things. Things like Portal, and whether we'll see an Orange Box 2. Like everyone at Valve, Doug's job title is a bit misleading; he does a broad range of things across the company, and has even - as he points out here - dabbled in development to some extent. He also plays Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead with us when we fly over to see Valve, which is nice of him (it's nice of him to let us win all the time, too). Anyway, enough being nice about Doug - here are a few selected excerpts from our discussion, with more to come when we're allowed to talk about what the developer was actually in Germany to show off...

The Orange Box

The Orange Box

We pit EA's port against PC and 360.

Google "Valve's Gabe Newell and PS3" and you'll see why I approached this review with some trepidation.

Valve's Gabe Newell comes down hard on PS3

Valve: PS3 a "total disaster on so many levels"

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Those of you with brains like computers will probably have worked out that you can use your Portal gun in other Source-powered games like Half-Life 2 and its pair of episodes.

Only 25% finished HL2 Ep1

Bizarre. Valve releases stats.

Valve has released statistics demonstrating how much time's been spent playing Half-Life 2: Episode 1, the nature of the game-sessions and things like how many people used the option to listen to in-game commentary.

FeatureOpening the Valve

Part 2: On Warren Spector, Alyx, and the importance of playtesting.

Despite the massive acclaim and the shower of awards thrust upon Valve in the wake of Half-Life 2's release in November 2004, the developer listened more than ever to the feedback from the community, meticulously cataloguing thousands of hours of playtesting feedback from hundreds of playtesters and setting about to continue the Half-Life 2 story episodically, but while also fixing many of the niggling issues that fans had with the game.

FeatureOpening the Valve

Gabe Newell and co. on Hollywood, Episode One and future expansions.

After spectacularly 'raising the bar' (with a gravity gun) of the FPS genre in 2004, Valve last week turned its attention to extending the Half-Life 2 universe episodically with the release of the first in a trilogy of episodes that finally reveals what happened to Gordon and Alyx after the destruction of the Citadel.

Episode One teaser

Dog's back!

With Half-Life 2: Episode One set for release on Steam today at 6pm UK time, Valve's sent out a fourth in its series of teaser trailers, again featuring the lovely Alyx Vance - this time accompanied by her mechanical pal Dog.

Half-Life 2: Episode One

Half-Life 2: Episode One

Eurogamer 4 Valve 2.

When is a sequel not a sequel? When it's Half-Life 2: Episode One, the confusingly titled first new episode in a trilogy of releases that picks up the story where HL2 left off. So it's part two of Half-Life 2, but episode one of three of the second half of the story? Something like that. Even Valve boss Gabe Newell seems exasperated with trying to justify it. "We should have just called it Half-Life 3: Episode One, but it's a bit late now," he chuckles. Actually, Aftermath worked pretty well...

Daft naming conventions aside, Episode One very much belongs to the original Half-Life 2 in every sense. Just as the box says, this is "the first new episode for Half-Life 2," and the game's millions of fans will be more than happy with the opportunity to wield the gravity gun again, duff up the Combine forces and hang out with Alyx. Who wouldn't?

But once you play through Episode One it's hardly surprising Valve tied itself up in knots when deciding on a title. The fact that it's the first part of a coherent story-driven trilogy elevates it above expansion pack cash-in fodder, but at the same time it's perhaps too closely associated with its 'parent' game to be thought of as a bona fide sequel. In a sense we're very much in GTA III/Vice City/San Andreas territory: you know exactly what to expect, but love it precisely because it's more of the same.

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Half-Life 2 Episode 1 teasers

It's like Christmas Eve.

With Half-Life 2: Episode 1 due to launch on Steam tomorrow, Valve's released a couple more teaser trailers to get you in the mood.

Half-Life Episode 3 confirmed

Half-Life Episode 3 confirmed

Plus: trailer for Ep 1 now showing.

Valve has confirmed that Half-Life 2: Episode One will go on sale on June 1st via the Steam download service, priced at $19.99.

Once again you play as Dr Gordon Freeman, but this time you get to explore the world outside City 17 together with the lovely Alyx Vance and her robot, Dog. It's said to offer between four and six hours of gameplay, and the good news is you don't need the original game to play. There's a teaser trailer now showing on Eurogamer TV.

Episode One will also offer a sneak peek at Episode Two, which is due to be released by the end of the year. And Valve has confirmed that a third instalment is in development - apparently "Episode One is the first in a trilogy of episodes that will conclude by Christmas 2007," don't you know.

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EA's released a new video of Half-Life 2: Episode One in action - and we've whacked it up on Eurogamer TV for you to check out.

HL2: Episode One delayed

While Gabe Newell talks story.

Half-Life 2: Episode One is now due out on May 31st according to Valve, although it'll still launch simultaneously on Steam and at retail, priced $19.99.

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.

HL2: Aftermath release date

HL2: Aftermath release date

And pricing, platinum pack news.

Valve has confirmed that it aims to release Half-Life 2: Aftermath on April 24th, along with a Platinum edition of Half-Life 2.

Aftermath, announced last year, is the first single-player expansion for Half-Life 2 to expand on the events of the game, and had previously been down for a November 2005 "launch window".

Speaking to various organisations yesterday, however, Valve's Doug Lombardi said, "We're currently targeting April 24th for the release of both Aftermath and Platinum."

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HL2: Aftermath teaser trailer

HL2: Aftermath teaser trailer

Expounds expansion a little bit.

Valve has started trailing Half-Life 2 expansion Aftermath ahead of its September release. The video is more of a teaser really, and hints at darker themes (and, as if to illustrate this, is also really quite dark and at points hard to make out).

We can see "stalkers", which seem to be rather unpleasant, and Alyx features heavily - including a shot of her putting down an Antlion, presumably an unfriendly one. It's an act that reminds us we haven't mentioned the Antlion Troopers Deuce mod yet. Now we have. Go Antlions!

Half-Life 2: Aftermath, of course, deals with the what-happens-after of City 17's Gordon Freeman-instigated downfall, picking up as the city starts to crumble. It's part of a larger canon of post-HL2 work that Valve's undertaking, which also includes Source Engine remakes of popular Half-Life 1 modifications like Day of Defeat and The Lost Coast, which reshapes a coastal section of Half-Life 2 using (more) advanced graphical techniques like High Dynamic Range (HDR).

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Valve spills Aftermath juice

More HL2 goodness coming soon.

Valve's Robin Walker has revealed a smattering of new details about Aftermath, the forthcoming Half-Life 2 expansion pack that most PC gamers with a pulse will be adding to their collection later this year.

HL2 Aftermath retail version confirmed

HL2 Aftermath retail version confirmed

And Valve is currently shooting for a September release.

Half-Life 2 expansion Aftermath will be getting a retail release after all, Valve's Doug Lombardi has confirmed, and the developer aims to release the game in September.

Speaking to Eurogamer at E3, Lombardi said: "Aftermath will be coming out at retail, but we're finalising our publishing partner." Valve recently parted ways with Half-Life 2 publisher Vivendi-Universal Games, who will cease distribution of the company's products at the end of August.

Asked when the developer's new publishing partner was likely to be revealed, Lombardi said it would be "soon, in the summer". He also added that the current release date estimate for Aftermath is "September".

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HL2: Lost Coast trailer

HL2: Lost Coast trailer

It's a weighty download, mind, but very pretty indeed. On Eurofiles now.

A new trailer for Half-Life 2: The Lost Coast is now available for download from good old Eurofiles.

It might take a while to download at 179MB, and you only get a minute's worth of footage for all that, but what pretty footage it is - the trailer is designed to show off the High-Dynamic Range rendering that's being used in the expansion.

You can read a full preview of Half-Life 2: Lost Coast here.

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Quake 4, HL2 Aftermath: First Shots Fired

For those of you who haven't glanced right lately, we've got some PC FPS treats.

For those of you whose necks don't turn more than half an inch left or right of centre, and whose eyes tunnel straight to the point without worrying about what's going on in the periphery - in other words, for those of you who haven't bothered looking at the news column today - you'll be interested to learn that screenshots of both Quake IV and Half-Life 2: Aftermath have now emerged. One of each.

FeatureHalf-Life 2: The Lost Coast

Valve gives a glimpse of its next-gen plans, providing more info on its single Half-Life 2 level for high end PCs.

As refreshingly optimised as Half-Life 2 was to run on low and mid range PCs, there's no doubt that a hugely significant chunk of its owners went out and upgraded their rigs with the specific intention of playing Valve's game without compromise, in all its staggeringly gorgeous glory. But while many of us went out and upgraded to a gigabyte of RAM, stuck in a high-end Radeon or GeForce and spent a fortune, it's pretty clear that our PCs had plenty of headroom left - and now Valve wants to take advantage of that with the forthcoming release of a specially designed level called 'The Lost Coast'.

FeatureHalf-Life 2: Aftermath

Valve releases the first details of its expansion for last year's top PC title.

The news most of us have been waiting for has finally been confirmed: Valve is readying the first expansion pack for the unanimously acclaimed Half-Life 2. Provisionally titled 'Aftermath', the new adventures of Gordon Freeman and his able sidekick Alyx is tentatively scheduled for a 'summer' release only via Steam, according to PC Gamer UK, which has - incredibly - scooped the world with its cover feature on the hotly anticipated game in its May issue, out today.