Half-Life: Why has there been no spiritual successor? Created 5 months ago2019-01-21 15:04:24 UTC by UrbaNebula UrbaNebula

Created 5 months ago2019-01-21 15:04:24 UTC by UrbaNebula UrbaNebula

Posted 5 months ago2019-01-21 15:04:24 UTC Post #341765
It seems that as time goes on, more and more people are now coming around to the idea that the Half-Life series will not be getting any official follow up games. Neither Half-Life 2: Episode 3 or Half-Life 3 have been even vaguely hinted at by Valve in any official capacity.

So my question is this. Why has there been no real successor to the Half-Life series?

First and foremost, what is it that we all love about the Half-Life series to begin with? Is it the narrative? The environmental story telling? The moment to moment game play? If you really think about the main plot of Half-Life, the story isn't really all that original.

Science experiment goes wrong. Aliens appear.

Yes, you can dig deeper and deeper into each of those points. The Gman's involvement in the whole thing, how the combine tie into it and so on, but right now we don't have any answers to a lot of the questions.

So what is to stop some other team coming along and making their own Half-Life? What really is the reason that Half-Life holds such a special place in so many people's hearts while other FPS games come and go without a backward glance.

For me it would be this. Half-Life is about variety, especially when compared to modern shooters. The environments, the conveyed emotion, the enemies, the weapons. Every single aspect of Half-Life shifts and changes with every new encounter.

You learn tricks which you use against certain enemies. (Vortigaunts need to charge their attack and will always hit if they have line of sight. Houndeyes charge can be interrupted by attacking them. Headcrabs can be dodged and then take a moment to wind up for another attempt.)

It doesn't SEEM like a modern AAA developer should have any major issue making a game with the same level of variety, but why has this not happened do you think?
UrbaNebula UrbaNebulaGoldSourcerer
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-21 15:35:02 UTC Post #341766
Although I haven't played Titanfall 2, I hear the game's singleplayer campaign was very inspired by Half-Life. Hell, I'm pretty sure that game is on the Source engine. Whenever I get a few bucks I'll pick it up and try it out for myself.

Other than that, yeah there's not really that many shooters that embrace Half-Life's style. Especially not nowadays. Now, every shooter has to be an open-world game with survival elements or multiplayer only. I guess the industry has just kinda moved on from narrative shooters.

The only game I can think of that kinda has the spirit of Half-Life is probably something like Dark Souls, even though it's a radically different game. But to me, it has the same sense of being something new and groundbreaking, it has alot of enemy and weapon variety, and it has some of the best environmental storytelling I've seen in a game. So if you haven't already, check it out, I suppose.
Dimbeak DimbeakRotten Bastard
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-21 16:48:15 UTC Post #341767
I think there's a variety of reasons.

The singleplayer shooter doesn't really exist nowadays. Why should it, when multiplayer games w/ MTX can provide a steady source of income, whereas a standalone game would just be a one time cash injection. No [large] publisher would get behind it nowadays, especially not when there's more interesting, profitable projects they could focus on instead.

Half Life has gone the way of Duke Nukem Forever - DNF was announced in '97 and released 14 years layer in 2011. It's now 12 years since the orange box released ( wow, is it really that long? - we're almost approaching the same time frame. Remember how terrified the developers were of releasing something that would fit to the hype? Same issue here - no matter what Valve make, it's never going to please the fan's insane hype as to what they expect HL3 to be - so what's the point in making it?

Honestly, when you deconstruct both Half life and HL2 there wasn't anything amazingly unique about the games. They did the right things at the right point in time, but it's not as if those things were unique in and of themselves. The physics and graphics of HL2 were mindblowing at the time, but now physics is expected from games, and the graphics aren't exactly stellar by comparison to today's games. HL1 played out in a cutscene-less, continuously flowing world that hadn't really been attempted before, but again, is now the norm. What would people expect to see from a HL3? What's the big draw, the big thing that has people go "woah" when they see the game for the first time that the previous two had?

No other company would want to touch the game with a barge pole either for the exact same reason as Valve - they've got nothing to win except the anger of fans for not delivering their expectations.

The story was put to an end by Marc Laidlaw, which although put a lot of fans at ease, would've made Episode 3 or HL3 a bit of a downer that's ultimately pointless, the story wouldn't have been that much of a pull. How on earth were you expected to make good, consistent gameplay on something that's supposedly phasing in and out of existence?

I don't think we're ever going to see a continuation of Half Life unfortunately. I loved the series and still do, but I think it's done. There's not much more that can be done with it. The most I can see is Valve using Virtual Reality as their "woah" thing for a HL3, but that's it's own kettle of fish.
Instant Mix Instant MixTitle commitment issues
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-21 20:50:18 UTC Post #341772
They probably have had good ideas but not yet any great ones. I think it’s all still on paper, lots and lots of crumpled up paper.
Rimrook RimrookGoldsource Guru
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-21 21:06:14 UTC Post #341773
so far I think this is the only hint from Valve about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tT3v5dd0SFU

there is a gordon figurine and the video is all about number three
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-21 21:47:54 UTC Post #341774
I think that the HL formula was oversused for almost 20 years. People focus on MP games instead of SP games, and people get bored too soon of games like HL because of newer alternatives. :(
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-22 10:51:50 UTC Post #341777
Strangely enough, the day I posted this thread, Gggmanlives uploaded his thoughts on Metro Exodus and states that it plays a lot like the Highway 17 sections of Half Life 2.

Looking at the recently released footage, I think he might be right.

It's a linear FPS game with larger open sections and it's mainly about traveling across a very hostile environment with a train and some other vehicles here and there, clearing the path ahead. Sounds more like On A Rail. Lots of enemy variety, different ways to approach situations and plenty of different weapons too. Maybe this is one to watch.
UrbaNebula UrbaNebulaGoldSourcerer
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-22 12:20:14 UTC Post #341780
Instant Mix pretty much summed it up, the right game in the right time made all the difference, it may have just been any other game who knows. I think that Valve are taking a correct stance in not pursuing HL3, the time of Quake like FPS'es is quite literally over at this point.

Its not a secret that Valve is interested in VR and there are rumors that a prequel to HL2 is in the works and its supposedly a VR title? This would allow them to avoid living up to the HL3 hype and maybe produce a proper VR title in the process.
rufee rufeeSledge fanboy
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-22 13:29:40 UTC Post #341782
The last I heard, Valve was working on a couple of titles based on VR and I just sighed. I'm sure VR is a fantastic experience, but it is a gimmick and not a particularly accessible one.

Also, while the time of Quake and Half-Life style games might be over in the AAA market, indie games like Dusk, Ion Maiden and 3D Realms unannounced Quake Engine game give me a lot of hope. Valve was tiny when they worked on Half-Life, so perhaps the smaller indie devs are the ones to pay attention to these days.

Or perhaps I'm just getting old and "Kids these days wouldn't know a good game if it kicked them in the nuts." :walter:
UrbaNebula UrbaNebulaGoldSourcerer
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-22 14:32:31 UTC Post #341783
Honestly, when you deconstruct both Half life and HL2 there wasn't anything amazingly unique about the games. They did the right things at the right point in time, but it's not as if those things were unique in and of themselves. The physics and graphics of HL2 were mindblowing at the time, but now physics is expected from games, and the graphics aren't exactly stellar by comparison to today's games. HL1 played out in a cutscene-less, continuously flowing world that hadn't really been attempted before, but again, is now the norm. What would people expect to see from a HL3? What's the big draw, the big thing that has people go "woah" when they see the game for the first time that the previous two had?
That's not quite correct. Both HL1 and (to a lesser extent) HL2 defined the genre. Sure, they might not seem particularly special in hindsight, but these games did things that nothing else was doing at the time. HL1 created a template and a baseline for thousands of games to come, just like Doom and Quake did before it.

Now as to what the big draw for HL3 is? Well it's a good question. My dumb theory that I don't really believe is that Valve has already determined what to do with the HL series: hand it over to the community. They have always been big supporters of mods and indie games and have hired from those groups very frequently. They're also encouraging community development with the Steam Workshop and by allowing games like Black Mesa to be sold. Valve thinks that the next big thing in gaming (and HL) is that amateur teams will form and create games that big studios aren't able (or willing) to create. They themselves started behaving like a big studio and became hostile towards their fans in order to push their point harder. Unfortunately their tactics weren't working as well as they'd hoped, so when Marc Laidlaw left Valve they asked him to publish the "Epistle 3" document in an attempt to rustle some jimmies and get people working on fanmade HL games. And look - it worked. There's now at least two teams involved in making a game telling the story and several others remaking HL levels in modern engines. If they do well, maybe those teams, and others, can continue HL's legacy with community-driven, fan-made games, just as Valve intended.
Penguinboy PenguinboyHaha, I died again!
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-22 15:10:11 UTC Post #341785
Yeah i think they want us to reverse engineer the older games as well, since the amount of information found in the libraries is way too much to account for just debugging purposes.
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-22 15:16:24 UTC Post #341786
Plus, who want to spend a bunch of money in developing a game if you have one of the biggest, if not the most big, modding community, plenty of talented people doing wonders with two almost 20 and 15 year old engines?, also, it´s a nonsense to lawsuit and threaten people wo wants to improve those engines and to give life to their games, FOR FREE!.
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-22 16:48:06 UTC Post #341787
Tell that to Nintendo.
rufee rufeeSledge fanboy
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-22 17:36:27 UTC Post #341788
Wish I could do that... in person... :crowbar:
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-22 21:54:59 UTC Post #341789
They went in commercial way (Steam) and just "forgot" how to create something really new. Until they have their own new engine with outstanding features, there is no reason to develop new part of Half-Life for them. Now they just can't compete with UE. Probably the only way for them is to use UE to develop HL3 now, if they want to make a masterpiece. But I doubt they choose this way.
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 00:40:59 UTC Post #341791
Now they just can't compete with UE. Probably the only way for them is to use UE to develop HL3 now, if they want to make a masterpiece.
Hard disagree. While Valve is dragging the chain big time with Source 2, all evidence suggests that they have the talent and the knowledge to make an independent engine that can compete with the big leagues. They just don't want to anymore. They have always been an incredibly independent company and have made a huge investment in Source 2 even though us plebs haven't ever been able to see it in all it's glory. By stalling on Source 2 they're not showing that they can't compete, they're showing that they don't really care about competing.

If their "prime" studio ever made a real game again (they won't), they'd do it with Source 2 and it'd be a high-quality engine. But Valve isn't really a game developer anymore, so they don't really have any reason to finish Source 2 and make it release-quality. Though I wouldn't be too surprised if their "child" companies (only Campo Santo at this point, but you could argue for VR tech demos and the like as well) used Unity or UE for their games - but that's no different than Arkane using CryEngine for Prey even though their parent company ZeniMax already owns both the Creation Engine and idTech. It's a solid business decision to let your subsidiaries operate somewhat independently and not force unproductive decisions on them. (Looking at you EA)

Furthermore, a "masterpiece" can be made in any engine. The idea that engine choice dictates if a game is good quality or not is incredibly ignorant.
Penguinboy PenguinboyHaha, I died again!
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 02:25:55 UTC Post #341792
It doesn’t have to be immaculately beautiful, it has to be a damned fine story. Who would mind if it looks a tad dated, that just means more people can run it, which means more people will buy it.

But what do I know about knowing stuff?
Rimrook RimrookGoldsource Guru
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 10:51:43 UTC Post #341793
Furthermore, a "masterpiece" can be made in any engine. The idea that engine choice dictates if a game is good quality or not is incredibly ignorant.
Eeerrrr... No, if the engine is limited, so are you, at least if you want to do a decent FPS. Even Brutaldoom have had to move from id1 to another ports just because the id1 was weak to show and move what BD has to show .
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 11:23:47 UTC Post #341794
Don't be stupid. Engine limitations don't prevent you from making a good game. Many older games are amazing products despite (and possibly because of) their engine limitations.
Penguinboy PenguinboyHaha, I died again!
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 11:42:34 UTC Post #341795
"Engine limitations don't prevent you from making a good game. Many older games are amazing products despite (and possibly because of) their engine limitations."
An engineer's creativity depends on the limitations, be it technical (the design), environmental, or financial, or all 3. The beauty of limits is working around them, and that's what makes a clever engineer. Similar principle applies to game developers.
"No, if the engine is limited, so are you, at least if you want to do a decent FPS."
If you're getting bad framerates, I'd rather say it's your design that pushes things too far. The engine simply isn't made for it. So, you should optimise it.
Admer456 Admer456Lean, mean, mapping machine :3
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 12:56:50 UTC Post #341796
I'm going to have to disagree with you. While you can certainly make a fantastic game in any decent game engine that's flexible enough, the limitations of some engines simply don't let your realize certain visions. You can't make something like GTA in the GoldSrc engine or even the Source engine without jumping through hoops that take -a lot- of time away from the creative process.
potatis_invalid potatis_invalidh̲͚̤̿͑̔̒̃̉̓ȋ͂͋̉̿̎͋̈́͏͚͖͇̭̩͓͔͝
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 13:08:55 UTC Post #341797
The idea that engine choice dictates if a game is good quality or not is incredibly ignorant.
Don't be stupid
Two insults in two replies this day. We are giving oppinions, we are not here to be insulted because of them. We love that anyone could discount our opinions, but beware of insulting someone for giving them.

But you are right, I like Shadow Warrior (1998) much more than I like the AAA Shadow Warrior 2.
If you're getting bad framerates, I'd rather say it's your design that pushes things too far. The engine simply isn't made for it. So, you should optimise it.
No, it is not about framerates. Some games require the right atmosphere and that could be only achieved through the use of the right engine. The sensations of playing doom 2016 are not the same of playing Doom 1, right? Just that, if you discover that fps are droping is time to optimize, but if your game don´t work as intended with thte minimum elements, maybe is time to jump to another more powerful one, unless you are Solokiller and create your own. :crowbar:
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 14:50:21 UTC Post #341799
An engine has absolutely no bearing on a games quality and the idea that modern games have to have ground breaking graphics to be considered a masterpiece is absolute untrue.

My game of the year for 2017 was Hollow Knight. A 2D metroidvania made in unity by two people. Everything from the game play and narrative was made to work to the genre/engine's limitations and absolutely nailed it.

Yes, atmosphere is important, but this is something that can be achieved with even the most dated engines. Duke Nukem 3D went for a very lighthearted tone and the build engine was perfect for it back in 1996. Duke Nukem Forever however, kept jumping from one engine to the next and the final result released in 2011 was completely fucked.
UrbaNebula UrbaNebulaGoldSourcerer
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 15:01:54 UTC Post #341800
"the limitations of some engines simply don't let your realize certain visions."
Yeah, I forgot to mention that.
If you're making your own engine, you might as well set your own limits until you reach the hardware limits, but if you're working with an engine that isn't yours, then it's what I said. In the case you mentioned, however, one can always use a different engine. :P
Admer456 Admer456Lean, mean, mapping machine :3
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 15:17:59 UTC Post #341801
An engine has absolutely no bearing on a games quality
It does, depending on the kind of game and what you're trying to create. What made Crysis special? Do old FPS games feel immersive anymore, now that we've been spoiled by more realistic graphics? One of my absolute favourites is Deus Ex. Maybe the second best game I've ever played (Life is Strange is special to me). But I'd like it a lot more if it wasn't so damn ugly and bug-ridden. And not half of the ugliness can be blamed on the artists or even the programmers. The core technology is outdated: look at the lighting, the physics. And if you've played it, you know the Unreal AI isn't a good fit for that kind of game. The game suffers because of these things. That it's still such a great game according to so many people is an achievement, but it could probably be even better if made with today's modern tools. But of course, that's just speculation.
potatis_invalid potatis_invalidh̲͚̤̿͑̔̒̃̉̓ȋ͂͋̉̿̎͋̈́͏͚͖͇̭̩͓͔͝
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 16:00:06 UTC Post #341802
I also consider that the engine is just a tool. If you need that your game will use enormous landscapes you must use a proper engine to do that. For highly detailed and realistic scenarios you need another one, if you need that your engine could show hordes of enemies you need another kind of engine. Just that. It´s not that a modern engine is better, is that modern engines let you do things that older ones not because they have limited hardware on which they could work with.
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 17:04:48 UTC Post #341803
I think that engine's choice does matter, if you haven't done it already, you should look at this GDC presentation from Warren Spector about Deus Ex 1, the engine related part is at 36:20 :
Another example is PAYDAY: The Heist and PAYDAY 2 where the "Diesel" engine has been created for racing games in mind ("FlatOut" IIRC). IMHO, Overkill didn't took enough time to remove that "racing" foundation and replace it by a "FPS" one. This is heavily noticeable on PAYDAY 1 (network issues) and PAYDAY 2 (especially during it's launch period).

I'm not saying that Unity/UE4 are nowadays the "must use engines". A game under QuakeWorld, GoldSrc, Source, CryENGINE 1 or whatever engine still could make wonders. I haven't played Ion Maiden and Dusk but from what I see on the Internet, people are enjoying it despite using "old tech".

"The right engine in the wrong video game can make all the difference in the world"
Shepard62700FR Shepard62700FRHalf-Cat is watching...
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 17:52:38 UTC Post #341804
Im leaning towards the artistic side here. You can have all the bells and whistles you desire, but if the core gameplay and/or story is shite the engine wont save it. While it is a big part of the game and does influence how everything comes together and works in the end its just a tool.
rufee rufeeSledge fanboy
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 18:08:46 UTC Post #341805
I have some ideas for Half-Life maps that are beyond what the engine can do due to performance issues and limits that boil down to arbitrary numbers in the engine. It shouldn't be this hard to make maps that are larger than the engine supports right now, and performance shouldn't be affected by the technology used to handle graphics.
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 18:34:54 UTC Post #341806
If you make a great game using an ill-suited engine, it's a great game despite the engine. If you have an engine and tooling that's a good fit for what you're creating, you're more likely to succeed in creating something good. Game engines (and the associated tools) matter a lot.
potatis_invalid potatis_invalidh̲͚̤̿͑̔̒̃̉̓ȋ͂͋̉̿̎͋̈́͏͚͖͇̭̩͓͔͝
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 18:42:39 UTC Post #341807
Agree. Know your tool before starting to build. Or you´ll find yourself in trouble.
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 19:34:11 UTC Post #341809
You could compare it to painting. Some artists can make fantastic art with just their fingers. But you can't deny the importance of the paintbrush.

Similarly, the Doom engine is excellent. For Doom. Not for Battlefield, not for Half-Life, not for a lot of fantastic games, not even Quake. Half-Life can not even be made in the game engines of the early 1990s without changing either the engine or the game so much it's no longer the same.
potatis_invalid potatis_invalidh̲͚̤̿͑̔̒̃̉̓ȋ͂͋̉̿̎͋̈́͏͚͖͇̭̩͓͔͝
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-23 21:32:11 UTC Post #341810
I think that each person willing to make a mod should, before ANYTHING is to know the boundaries of the engine. Not doing so is to ask for trouble and frustration.
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-24 13:34:35 UTC Post #341822
So much hype to live up to, and not enough motivation to work on Singleplayer titles nowadays are 2 reasons I can think of for why this hasn't happened yet. but I also think it's because making a worthy successor is more than just recycling the same ideas. The original Half-Life was revolutionary in a way, Skeletal animations, Scripted sequences ... etc and Half-Life 2 took it to the next level with Facial animations and Realistic physics as part of the gameplay.

I think if a successor is to be made it needs to be just as revolutionary and memorable and that's not a simple task, It's probably best to let it rest in peace rather than make another DNF. there are several reports and leaks hinting at a possible HLVR in the works by Valve but I highly doubt that's going to be the next big thing.
LOZ98 LOZ98Oh crap, what do I put here now.
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-24 15:06:31 UTC Post #341825
Episode 3 with a good ending, that´s what they only need... Being less picky with releasing their engines could help too.
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-24 15:37:34 UTC Post #341826
Epistle 3 proved otherwise.
LOZ98 LOZ98Oh crap, what do I put here now.
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-24 20:51:18 UTC Post #341829
By using sophisticated cryptanalysis techniques I've determined that Half-Life will see its resurgence this year. Invest and HODL Half-Life, the
"Instant Mix" said:12 years
cycle might be at its end!
User posted image
On a more serious note, I do think that Half-Life or some story that is intertwined with the HL1/2 universe will make an appearance in the years to come. These things always happen. A lot of stuff is recycled in our world, or inspired from old stuff. First big example would be the renaissance. We can apply the same pattern to everything cultural. The HL games had such a big impact that there just needs to be more time left for it to be forgotten. I also think that economical reasons are at play. People who run Valve are also humans and probably the period 2007-2008 when the house-market crisis happened wasn't a particularly good time to play it risky with a game that could both bring little revenue and critical fury. I don't know if Valve has shares that can be bought on the stock-market or the shareholders situation but in such cases we know the drill: shareholders want max profit.

[EDIT] I'd really like to try Titanfall 2 myself someday, some holiday. I just checked it after Dimbeak mentioned and - holy cow - that is a Source engine game! - although, somehow bizarrely you can notice that specific "plastic" feeling of metal surfaces (I watched a gameplay) Source engine has, though the natural environment seemed lush and really not Source engine-y :\
Striker StrikerI seriously doubt myself
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-24 21:49:35 UTC Post #341831
Titanfall is a mixage of District 9, Elysium, Chappy... I love it!, a pity that it does not include offline Bots, if so this game could have been GLORIOUS.
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-25 21:38:13 UTC Post #341840
I thought a big part of Half-Life was the modding - Natural Selection 2 tried to follow that path with their SDK but I don't know, I guess the modding scene has changed since 1998.
Posted 5 months ago2019-01-25 21:59:07 UTC Post #341841
If someone is still talking about HL is because of modding, I still don´t know why valve is so harsh with some modders if they don´t care about HL anymore.
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