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Ninjaman09
08-24-04, 10:18 AM
You know, there's something that's been bothering me throughout this whole ridiculous ordeal with Valve and Half-Life 2. People have been berating id for making Doom 3 the way they wanted to, and exhibiting extraordinary amounts of understanding and patience with Valve, even though they've fed the public and press little more than lies for the past year. Go on any pre-order website and see the droves of morons posting 5-star reviews on a game they haven't ever played, hailing it as the next king of FPSs and the killer of Doom 3. Who's to say if Half-Life 2 is any good? No one knows!

Now, to the gaming public, Valve is regarded as little less than gods. Hell, some people think more highly of them than id software. Why is this? It's a mystery to me. Let's review the two companies' track records, shall we?

The items listed below are known facts that are not up for debate.

id software games:
-Commander Keen series
-Wolfenstein series
-Doom series
-Quake series

id software engine licensed games:
-Heretic series
-Hexen series
-Jedi Outcast
-Jedi Academy
-Medal of Honor Allied Assault + Expansions
-Call of Duty
-Star Trek: Elite Force series
-Soldier of Fortune series
-Half Life + expansions (ironic, isn't it?)
-droves of other games (doom, quake, quake2, and quake 3 engine) I haven't thought of yet

id software landmarks:
-creators of the FPS genre and arguably the pioneers of 3D gaming
-most successful game developers ever
-most experienced 3D gaming engine designers
-creators of the most frequently licensed 3D engines

Now, for Valve:

Valve Software games:
-Half-Life + expansion packs

Valve Software engine licensed games:
-Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines (not yet released)

Valve Software landmarks:
-Half-Life considered by many to be the best FPS ever.

Valve isn't a bad company, not by a long-shot. However, it pales in comparison to id software, and frankly, many other game developers as well. I don't understand why people think the Source engine is so advanced - it's just a spiffed-up Quake engine (yes I know it's not actually the Quake engine, but the method of processing the architecture is the same) with pixel shaders. That's nowhere near as advanced as Doom 3's 100% per-pixel lighting and shadowing engine. id took the next step in 3D engine technology, while Valve is using old technology and slapping on an extra coat of polish. This will make for very nice looking outdoor areas, and probably very good framerates as well, it does not make the engine revolutionary in the same sense as the Doom 3 engine. The very most we can hope for Half-Life 2 is that it will be a fun game, but I it isn't capable of evolving the way the Doom 3 engine can. The reason for this is simple - id software and John Carmack are FAR more experienced and talented 3D engine programmers than Valve and Gabe Newell. Source is their first proprietary engine. id's been making engines for over a decade.

Is it because Half-Life was such an awesome game? I can see how people could get blind-sided by this. However, it was JUST ONE GAME. That's all! Valve has never made any other game! Why all the expectations? Why all the hype? Other than Half-Life, Valve has no track record! People just eat up their PR BS and sit there stewing in anticipation, but plenty of developers have released terrible sequels to great games, especially in the translation to more advanced technology. Now, maybe Half-Life 2 will be game of the year, maybe it'll put Doom 3 to shame, but its technology is already dated. There's nowhere for it to grow but in a straight line.

Keep in mind that I was using id as a basis of comparison. Feel free to replace "id" with "Epic" and the Unreal engines, there's plenty to talk about there too.

intercede007
08-24-04, 10:54 AM
I mean really.....There are die-hard Cleveland Browns fans. You have to ask? ;)

Ninjaman09
08-24-04, 10:56 AM
Hmm, good point.

LiquidX
08-24-04, 11:00 AM
Hehe I doubt many know HL1 is based on an id engine. But all it takes is one game people see as vastly differnent IMO so one company releasing one game the other ten games doesnt really matter IMO. There are alot of one hit wonders just look at the music industry. I however think id should get more praise and shouldnt even be put on the same level as Valve because they practically invented the art of FPS with the plus of so many games based on the engine most of which are superb. Also I think what is that Counter Strike made Half Life more appealing and without that fan created mod I think HL fan base would have faded but still rememberd like classics like System Shock. So you can bet Vale thanks its lucky stars that, that mod was created same goes for EA and BF1942 great game but DC and other mods made it what it is IMO.

mezkal
08-24-04, 11:01 AM
It's really quite simple. No other game before or after Half Life has captured the elements of mood and narrative quite so eloquently. All of the Doom and Quake games have mainly relied on engine snazziness and multiplayer capabilities. Unreal was probably the first game of it's type - the immersive adventure FPS - I can still remember the introdcutory sequence of "waking up" on the recently crashed prison ship. The problem for Unreal was that it was eclipsed rather quickly by more modern engines (Quake2/3/Arena) and a push for Multiplayer (UT among others). Unreal was, however, one the first true WORLD RENDERERING games. I think that once people had had thier multiplay fix they were hungry for more narrative and noone had successfully brought a decent story-within-a-game to market.

Then comes Valve. They preview a snazzy multitexturing lighting setup. They discuss potential AI and what's more thier screenies look SO DAMNED ATMOSPHERIC. Remember the first shots they were showing of one of the scientists being eaten alive by that Underwater Shocker (the one you have to take down with the crossbow in the game)? That was creepy. Moreover it was one of the first screens where very little was left to the imagination (unlike previous games where we geeks would be *explaining* the context of what was going on onscreen to our bemused better halves/parents/non gamer friends). Then they discussed the potential (based on the ORIGINAL non-alien scenario of genetic research base gone haywire) of breeding enemies and "pack mentality" intelligence. Then nothing for a long while.....A couple of ads from Sierra with the Ninja Assasin She-Bitch (:P) stating how she wants only to take you down. Not much else....it kinda drifted....stayed in our subconcious I think. Especially the early images of headcrab zombies and the half eaten scientist..

Then WHAM Half Life Day One is released. 3DFx owners start crowing and many of us think they're right. We buy our first 3Dfx cards (previously the realm of wealthy GLQuake1 players who knew a lot better then to trust other tech like the Rendition VERITE 1000) just so we can get our grubby little mitts on HL: Day One. A friend showed me his copy and I went out and purchased my 3Dfx card the same damn day! All this from a demo. Some 30% of the actual game Some argue almost the best 30%. I disagree the Rail cart sequences with the aliens and soldiers after your ass were the most terrifying.

But nothing has equalled the Half Life intro experience. That was superlative use of narrative and it was DAMN IMMERSIVE stuff. Still mighty enjoyable in this day and age of higher polys, normal maps and almost realtime lighting. I think that's what really grabbed people. The storyline. It was just so cool and so ADULT. All the cool name's of each chapter. My favourite was Questionable Ethics - http://www.planethalflife.com/half-life/walkthrough/wt10.shtm. You start on top of these cages and you begin to realise that Black Mesa has been dealing with the Xen Aliens a lot longer than just since the Invasion.

Then of course we have the G-Man. Arguably gaming's most sinister and cleverly utilised character ever. The X-Files' "Smoking Man" doesn't have a thing on this guy. Doesn't even come close.

Infact I've yet too see a game where each of the NPC's (Headcrab Zombies included and rotating signage in the first two minutes of Black Mesa prior to "Unforseen Circumstances") is so perfectly realised. The soldiers act and shoot like trained killers. The aliens are truely *alien* and the scientists and *barneys* all come together to make the world of "Half-Life" immediately recognisable and, more importantly, believable. That, I think, is where the longevity and dare I say MAGIC of Half Life really sits.

The MultiPlayer aspects of the game were nice. Yes. Certainly later on when CS started to show itself as MUCH MUCH more than a TF mod we all noticed a whole new trend in Team Combat gaming open up. But I'm not sure that CS is what made Half Life so memorable. It definitely would have expanded the fan base as not every had the time to commit to the FPS single player and CS at first would have appealed to the more casual gamer. Now, of course, the reverse is true. Single player experiences are really thin on the ground whereas whole MultiPlayer universes (MMORPGs and UT2k3/4 etc) are almost on every retail shelf.

Halo and Halo 2 are the last of what Half Life set out and achieved. The single player FPS with STRONG Narrative.

If we can learn anything from this I think it's that Gabe Newell fit's the same place in history as Carmack and Sweeney. He has his place in the pantheon of gaming gods. Not so much for Programming, 3D design, physics or even Map Building. But for something far more deep and important : The Manipulation of ALL of these technologies weaved into a cohesive game with high level narrative. Simply he is the Stanley Kubrick of games. Like Kubrick he takes a very large vision works with the appropriate field speciliasts to bring that vision, his vision into reality. I liken the Half Life development experience with the creation of 2001.

Both have changed the nature of the arenas they have been developed in. Immeasurably and Undeniably. :)

DaveW
08-24-04, 11:12 AM
Ninjaman, I agree with you. Half-life was very good, but Valve has done squat since then. A lot of the team that worked on HL probably aren't even there anymore. Counterstrike was very good, but Valve didn't create it, a bunch of mod makers did. All Valve has done recently is hype up HL2 and miss release dates.

The engine isn't as advanced as Doom 3, but it could still look good with high res textures and shader effects. The best part of the screenshots we have seen are the high res textures, a lot of which appear to be real photos. Thats what makes the buildings and stuff look so realistic.

HL 2 has the potential to be an excellent game, but I am not getting my expectation high until we get to play it (or a demo). HL was one of the best games of all time, but that doesn't mean its sequel will be. Remember Deus Ex 2? or how about MOO 3?

karkrash81
08-24-04, 11:21 AM
The story in Half Lie was weak if you ask me. It was the same story as Doom and quake 1. Far Cry and Doom 3 have the same story as well. Halo has the same story as far cry (or vice versa), etc...Execution of the story was merely okay...

The reason I feel that half life was so good was how the environment immersed you. It didn't feel like levels, it felt like one cohesive environment. It was a game world, not a series of levels. Also, the weapons were perfectly balanced and the AI was the best at the time. The game was just damn fun to play. That's why I think the game became so popular.

I can remember going through the game and then several hours later looking across a chasm and saying "hey, i was over there a few hours ago"... the level design in half life was superlative to say the least

I think there have been few games that have managed to surpass half life in terms of environmental immersion...

But to say the story was great would be a HUGE overstatement.

Ninjaman09
08-24-04, 11:34 AM
OK, maybe I wasn't as clear as I should have been. No one is saying Half-Life is a bad game. I actually stated that it was one of the best games of all time. Personally, I loved it. I still play it now. mezkal, that was a great post, but I think you missed the point of what I was saying. And I must disagree with you - Gabe Newell doesn't hold a candle to John Carmack and Tim Sweeney. Newell (and his team at Valve) are excellent game designers - there's no doubt about that. But game design is largely subjective and I was trying to stick to facts. However, if you want to talk game design, Half-Life is in no way the king. I can think of several games that were leaps and bounds ahead of Half-Life during its time, such as System Shock 2, Deus Ex, and Thief 2, to name a few. Those games offered much better immersion and narrative prowess than Half-Life. However, Half-Life had something those games didn't: good marketing. That's all. People are impressionable, and we eat up good marketing and PR like caramel-coated popcorn.

majortom
08-24-04, 11:34 AM
people hold valve in high regard because:
1. half life single player had graphics for its time and even more importantly, had great gameplay.
2. great mod community. halflife is STILL getting new mods, while all these new engines and games are coming out, one of the most popular games out there (cs) runs on a modified q1 engine. what other modding community is as extensive as half life? you guys see as many mods for quake2/3, soldier of fortune, ut, ut2003/4, etc?

Ninjaman09
08-24-04, 11:42 AM
you guys see as many mods for quake2/3, soldier of fortune, ut, ut2003/4, etc?

No, I see a lot more. However, it's true that Half-Life has spawned some of the most popular multiplayer mods. This, however, is not Valve's doing, but the mod makers', and is large a function of the time the game was released. If Half-Life was delayed even a year or so, we'd be playing Counter-Strike on the Unreal or Quake 2 engine. I know several people who were working on a mod for the Source engine that scrapped it and switched to UT2K4 because of all the delays. Now their mod is in alpha release and it's looking great. The model skinner for their team, a friend of mine, told me that now that he's seen more of the Source engine, he's glad he went with UT2K4. Check out their mod at NeoTokyo HQ (http://www.neotokyohq.com/). Sorry, but I felt like I should plug it since I brought it up.

The discussion is about Valve's prowess as a 3D engine creator and its (as I propose) bloated popularity. Valve is a balloon, and I'm betting it's gonna burst pretty soon.

mezkal
08-24-04, 11:52 AM
OK, maybe I wasn't as clear as I should have been. No one is saying Half-Life is a bad game. I actually stated that it was one of the best games of all time. Personally, I loved it. I still play it now. mezkal, that was a great post, but I think you missed the point of what I was saying. And I must disagree with you - Gabe Newell doesn't hold a candle to John Carmack and Tim Sweeney. Newell (and his team at Valve) are excellent game designers - there's no doubt about that. But game design is largely subjective and I was trying to stick to facts. However, if you want to talk game design, Half-Life is in no way the king. I can think of several games that were leaps and bounds ahead of Half-Life during its time, such as System Shock 2, Deus Ex, and Thief 2, to name a few. Those games offered much better immersion and narrative prowess than Half-Life. However, Half-Life had something those games didn't: good marketing. That's all. People are impressionable, and we eat up good marketing and PR like caramel-coated popcorn.

Ninja I'm not sure how not to be insulted by your post. I understand where you're coming from but too sum up my dissertation as not "stick(ing) to the facts" and calling it a great post in the same breath is kind of confusing, let alone insulting. We're talking about some extremely subjective points of view here. Your post asks "How did Valve get put on its pedastal anyway?"

I answered. Now you may disagree. Infact I implore anyone to offer other opinions. That's all we're discussing here. There are no real facts. I mean sure if you want to break it down to turnaround times, engines and other technicalities you can. But that, in my opinion, would be wrong. A game isn't it's engine, nor it's ability to get to the shelves on a given release date. Nor is it it's marketing. Nor it's storyline alone.

Infact a successful title that makes GOTY is one that surpasses all of these singular yardsticks and becomes something of legend. Something that remains in people's hearts and minds for many years to come.

Too say that all my honest emotional responses to the experience of Half Life (which includes all the *yardsticks* I mentioned above) comes down to good marketing makes me feel as if I'm being oversimplified. That's not cool.

What's the point of opening a discussion if you're not actually willing to discuss?

ynnek
08-24-04, 12:01 PM
Wait a minute.. Half life came out at least one year before these games..

Half life - release date Sept 1998
System Shock 2 - release date Sept 1999
Thief 2 - March 23, 2000
Deus Ex - June 22, 2000

Anyways, HL itself was a great single player FPS game for its time, probably one of the best FPS when it came out... Also, I believe it got elevated along with CS's popularity.

I can tell you one thing.. SS2 was great, but was not really an action FPS like HL was.. Same with Thief.

Doom 3 was a bit over hyped too... Honestly, I'm expecting HL2 to be more "interesting" overall.

EDIT: I also think UT2K4 is awesome, especialyl for a pure multiplayer action FPS.. and I really like the netcode it has.. better than D3, and CS:S.. it "feels" less laggy..

Ninjaman09
08-24-04, 12:03 PM
mezkal:
I said "not sticking to the facts" because I posted nothing but facts in my post and you responded with nothing but opinions. Which I have no problem with, but I was trying to say that I was using Valve's accomplishments and track record as a basis of comparison rather than people's opinions of their one game. Your post wasn't actually even in disagreement with mine, and I wasn't trying to rebut you, except that personally I think Half-Life pales in comparison to other games. So you shouldn't take any offense, as I meant none. Like I said, I loved Half-Life too. However, Valve hasn't made any other games before or since then. Even Bungie had the Marathon games (which rocked) before Halo. So far, they are a "one hit wonder" in PC Games. Therefore, I think they are a grossly overrated developer.

ynnek:
By "in its time" I meant like during its time period. Those games were technically comparable to Half-Life, and could all run about the same on the average to high end system at the time. Well, as long as you had a 3dfx card.

karkrash81
08-24-04, 12:07 PM
I'm amazed by the number of mods for UT2003 - 2004...it seems new ones pop up every day.

As far as single player mods go, Half LIfe definately had (has) more than any other game...

Half Life was a great and still is an excellent game. Valve, however seem a little pompous after releasing just 1 game...i gave up on team fortress years ago...After 3 good games I'd be confident enough to say that valve was an A+ developer

In terms of game developers that have proven their skills I would have to rank the top 3 as ID, Raven, and Monolith as the most consistent developers. Sure Raven and Monolith had duds (soldier of fortune 2 and contract jack and blood 2) but look at their track record...

Raven: Jedi Outcast, Jedi Academy, Elite Force, Soldier of Fortune, Heretic 2, Heretic, Hexen 2, Hexen

Monolith: Blood, Shogo, no one lives forever, no one lives forever 2, aliens versus predator, and tron 2.0

I'd have to say any one of the monolith games listed above had more mood than half life ...

I hope for Valve's sake that Half Life 2 is the second coming...

Pandora's Box
08-24-04, 12:19 PM
I mean really.....There are die-hard Cleveland Browns fans. You have to ask? ;)


stfu

H3avyM3tal
08-24-04, 01:50 PM
do not put a man like Stanley Kubrick in the same step as gabe. thats it for that issue.
now, as far as games go, hl was one of best, if not THE best in the fps genre.
but graphics are not everything, there are many old games considered better then todays games. take final fantasy 7 for xemple. in my opinion it is the best game ever, simply because of story. and even today i keep playing it on my ps. but lets not get off topic here.
valve should be considered as one of the best simply because they made a game that made us look at games in a different light. 90% of the games today have stories that are far better to the ones we see in movies.
the way i see it, there is no way that hl2 will be just another game, and it will most deffenetly out-do doom3. but still, i look at doom3 as one of the games that will change the future. i has the best looking engine, and i look at it like a simple game, only for id to let the public see thier new xcelent engin at work.
so id is a pinoneer in its field. valve only make great games. they didnt invent anything new, they just took it to the next level.

saturnotaku
08-24-04, 02:20 PM
valve only make great games. they didnt invent anything new, they just took it to the next level.

What game besides Half-Life has Valve done? And don't even start on the expansion packs because Gearbox did those. Valve has shown they are, so far, nothing but a one-trick pony. Granted other developers can be put into the same general boat, but many also have more than one game to put on their resumes.

That said, Half-Life is probably my favorite game of all time. The actual story itself certainly falls well short of being innovative. But Valve mastered the incorporation of the story into gameplay. It didn't have the "tacked on" feel that many games in this genre had (and continue to have). In my opinion, nearly everything you did in Half-Life had a purpose. There were points where it made you think - it wasn't all about going in guns a-blazin', kill everything in sight, lather, rinse and repeat.

From everything I've seen about HL2, it looks like this is an element Valve has not forgotten. There will be a reason behind most everything you do, only it will be on a much larger scale than in the first game.

I've said it before, but I think it bear repeating. Half-Life made an awful lot of gamers and the media very jaded about the whole FPS genre. It set the bar so high that most of its successors (not counting MP only titles like Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament) weren't (to quote Derek Smart's Desktop Commander) "worthy to lick their filth-encrusted boots."

I think Far Cry started to change all that. It didn't do it with story so much as it did with its environments and the interactivity contained therein. Though it was frustrating as hell at points, Far Cry was the most enjoyable first-person experience I've had since Half-Life. I find myself wanting to replay it more than finishing Doom 3 or Painkiller.

H3avyM3tal
08-24-04, 02:30 PM
my bad, i meant to say valve only made a great game.
hey im with you on the game, but its far from being the best of the best.

Ninjaman09
08-24-04, 02:39 PM
Ugh. Don't get me started on Final Fantasy 7. I appreciate the game for its influence on the acceptance of RPGs as a legitimate game type, and it was a great game on its own merits...but there are a bajillion other RPGs with MUCH better stories. Go play Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete or Skies of Arcadia and tell me FF7 has a better story. Don't talk about character depth or development - aside from Cloud himself and maybe Barrett, there really isn't any at all. Not to mention the ending of the game, which was very anti-climatic and drawn out, not to mention very abstract and confusing.

What game besides Half-Life has Valve done? And don't even start on the expansion packs because Gearbox did those. Valve has shown they are, so far, nothing but a one-trick pony. Granted other developers can be put into the same general boat, but many also have more than one game to put on their resumes.

*edit - this was posted by saturnotaku - my mistake, I'd just responded to Edge in another thread - sorry! *

Exactly my point.

Mr. Hunt
08-24-04, 02:43 PM
Hey now! I love FF7 :).

saturnotaku
08-24-04, 02:54 PM
Exactly my point.

Except that Edge didn't say it. I did. :p

aAv7
08-24-04, 02:58 PM
Ugh. Don't get me started on Final Fantasy 7. I appreciate the game for its influence on the acceptance of RPGs as a legitimate game type, and it was a great game on its own merits...but there are a bajillion other RPGs with MUCH better stories. Go play Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete or Skies of Arcadia and tell me FF7 has a better story. Don't talk about character depth or development - aside from Cloud himself and maybe Barrett, there really isn't any at all. Not to mention the ending of the game, which was very anti-climatic and drawn out, not to mention very abstract and confusing.



Exactly my point.


I'll have to disagree here. The lunar series is way too childish for me and Skies of Arcadia imo is the most overrated rpg of all time.

No character development aside from barret and cloud? So I guess the whole time we find out bits and pieces of areis's past until all is revealed and Seph kills her....that wasnt character development? RedXIII going from a lab expeirement to finding out he's the new king and protector of his land and what his parents did.....that's not character development? Everything was planned out perfectly imo. From the evil shinra corps, to the deterioration of the planet, to seph, to aeris, to cloud, to barrett....what wasnt to like?

FF7 was brilliant. While I feel FF2 and 3 for snes (or 4 and 6 if you go by the jap. #'s) had much better stories, FF7 put rpg's on the map. FF3 for snes.best rpg. ever. 7 comes close though.

I havent seen, played or had my eye on a decent rpg yet for the current systems. FF10 and X-2 were the worst in the series to me. And Star Ocean is way too linear. (Least it was...havent tried the ps2 one)

I will say though, as great as the ff series used to be....I havent played a good one since 7....square just aint what it used to be . =/

jbirney
08-24-04, 03:00 PM
Far Cry was the most enjoyable first-person experience I've had since Half-Life. I find myself wanting to replay it more than finishing Doom 3 or Painkiller.

Dam you Sat will you quit steeling my thoughts!!!

Summed it up nicely :)

That being said I fear no matter how good HL2 is or isn't it may just fail due to the fact the first one was so good. Did they set the bar so high from the first one that they can not make it? Only time will tell....

LiquidX
08-24-04, 03:05 PM
[/QUOTE]Go play Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete or Skies of Arcadia and tell me FF7 has a better story.[QUOTE]

Sorry to go off topic but I played them all, RPG fanatic here and FFVII frigging story wowed me. Everything came together and you really felt for every characters especially when Aerith was killed so early on and you thought for sure she would be back...but she wouldnt. I wont lie it even choked me up a little and was a stunning. Skies of Arcadia although great cannot hold a candle story wise in anyway and shouldnt even be mentioned in the same breath IMO, Lunar came close but again..... :) It has been some 7 or more years since I played it and still not many if any other RPG has captivated me like it did. Still one of the only rpg'd next to Chrono Trigger that I think about to this day and hold every rpg I play to. Hell there should be a rule no other RPG's should be mentioned in the same breath as Chrono Cross and FFVII and some other classics...they stand on there own and shouldnt be compared. :ORDER:

back on topic..........

LiquidX
08-24-04, 03:07 PM
Ditto, ultimate17!