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Half-Life Episode 1 Gold, Details on 2 and 3 92

Gamespot has the word that the first of the Half-Life 2 episodes has gone gold. They also have details on the upcoming Episodes 2 and 3. Episode 1 is to be released on the 1st of June. From the article: "In addition to two new multiplayer modes and the Lost Coast tech demo, Episode One will sport a preview of its sequel, Half-Life 2: Episode Two. The expansion, the existence of which was revealed in February, will add another four- to six-hour mini-campaign to the Half-Life 2 saga when it is released later this year. Previously, the game had no official release window or date. Today's gold announcement also was the first official confirmation that a third Half-Life 2 episodic update is in development. Like Episode Two, Valve divulged little in the way of information about Episode Three, saying only that it was the last 'in a trilogy ... that will conclude by Christmas of 2007.'"
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Half-Life Episode 1 Gold, Details on 2 and 3

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  • by republican gourd ( 879711 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @06:01PM (#15398034)
    ... because Steam forces an update that causes HL2 to freak out and crashs on my machine. Older versions were fine, more recent ones are absolutely unplayable. Since you basically can't only run *some* updates, its impossible to get the old version of the game back, so I'm screwed out of my $80 or whatever I paid on zero day. I will never suggest to anyone that they buy anything under this business model, its rape city.
    • Wow, I experienced the same problem with both HL2 and Sin Episodes--the update in question being the latest for Sin Episodes. Both games start out fine, but after about 10 minutes of play begin to stutter, then freeze and eventually crash the entire machine, requiring a reset. I was ready to start looking for diagnostics utilities to run against my video card, but maybe the problem is steam related...
    • by SpecBear ( 769433 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @07:39PM (#15398455)

      I decide that HL2 would be the last Steam game I purchased the first time HL2 refused to run because too much time had passed since the last time Steam had updated. I wasn't permitted to play a single player game on my local machine until I allowed the software to phone home and "update".

      The sad part is, the online content delivery system has the potential to be a great business model. But it seems like the entertainment industry looks at every technological advance as an opportunity to screw the customer.

      On a side note, Valve offers a pretty compelling refutation to the idea that piracy drives up the cost of games. Steam practically eliminates the cost of piracy as well as physical production and distribution. So why does it seem like the games are even more expensive?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @07:55PM (#15398520)
      Have you talked with Valve customer support about this? We have a pretty aggressive track record when it comes to addressing customer complaints... at least the verifiable kind. Believe me, we don't want our updates to cause problems with existing legitimate installations. That wouldn't serve our purposes any more than yours.

      A.C. (anonymous Valve employee; opinions above are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the company, etc.)
      • No, I haven't. It didn't even occur to me as something that would be a likely solution.... what would Valve do, give me a *special* patch for special customers? If I had called at all, it would have been to demand my money back... but since this happened quite some time after purchase I didn't think it was particularly worth it.

        Customer support always assumes that the customer doesn't know what you're doing. I'd rather not spend an hour or more having somebody walk me through a re-install just to see the
        • what would Valve do, give me a *special* patch for special customers?

          No, not if they are sane.

          Consider: Many programs are not 64-bit safe, and thus break when they're merely recompiled. However, making them 64-bit safe does not break the program for 32-bit users, unless done in an extremely stupid fashion. In fact, testing on other architectures can reveal bugs that you wouldn't see otherwise -- for instance, a crash that happens very rarely on x86, but every single time on (say) SPARC.

          I'd rather not

          • Now, contact them and report the bug. Really, you do sound like a crank and a zealot because you refuse to do that. Have you actually called their customer service, or filled out a form? If not, everything you believe about their service is baseless.

            It takes quite a bit of time and effort to properly document and prepare a *useful* bug report, even had I known at the time where to submit it or that they would be amicable to reading it. Its not like I had any packaging with the customer service number o

            • by __aamkky7574 ( 654183 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @04:33AM (#15400066)
              It takes quite a bit of time and effort to properly document and prepare a *useful* bug report
              Probably a lot less time than it takes to write several lengthy bitches to Slashdot about the problem.


              P.

        • No, I haven't. It didn't even occur to me as something that would be a likely solution.... what would Valve do, give me a *special* patch for special customers?

          Or maybe they'd learn about and fix the bug that's biting you in the ass? You're the architect of your own misery, buddy; help is there for the asking, but you're too busy nailing yourself to a cross to consider that Valve maybe isn't out to fuck you over.
          • I don't believe they are out to screw me, I just believe that their centrally controlled delivery system is a poor value. In the future, I will be avoiding such systems as much as possible. I'm bothering to post this here because I hope that people who design and implement these systems might pick up on the negative feedback and do things differently next time.

            As for the bug report: I don't feel that its worth my time. I'm not 'nailing myself to a cross' or anything, I just don't feel like playing HL2 a
            • The exact same thing can (and does) happen with patches to normal store bought games with update patches. My friend had it happen on his system with a patch to Star Wars Battlefront. After the patch he suffered crashes and server disconnects after playing for 5-10 minutes. Consistently. He tried all the support recommended stuff (upgrade video, audio drivers etc.) which didn't improve things. The only "remedy" LucasArts would give him was another copy of the game - which would be fine if there was something
        • by Anonymous Coward
          This includes situations where the game simply sucks. Steam is worse, because you can't even dump off your mistaken purchase on the used game stores and get *something* back.

          Have you even read the Steam Subscriber Agreement? Accessible via Help -> Steam Subscriber Agreement or here: http://www.steampowered.com/index.php?area=subscri ber_agreement [steampowered.com]

          C. Acceptance/Rejection/Returns The terms of this Section 3.C do not apply to European Union consumers. You will have a period of thirty (30) days after the

        • by jchenx ( 267053 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @02:33AM (#15399768) Journal
          Customer support always assumes that the customer doesn't know what you're doing. I'd rather not spend an hour or more having somebody walk me through a re-install just to see the problem recur. (I had already done this). Further, I had already verified that it was a HL2 update issue (rather than a change of a machine) because it literally changed from working -> broken within a single Steam update. I had played some time before, shut it off, turned it back on, watched Steam update itself, then watched it not work anymore. All my other intensive games, (Doom3, FarCry)... working perfectly.

          The game was simply fucked, which turned me off as a customer permanently. I'm sure you guys offer great customer service or whatever, but I'm one of those people that doesn't want to waste hours of my life talking to you over a problem that *may* or may not be resolved to retain me as a customer for a delivery system that I have grown to absolutely despise.
          As someone who works in QA for a living, and whose customers are end-users just like you, I wanted to give my two cents regarding customer service. (This applies to pretty much ALL software, not just Steam)

          You are correct that customer service does NOT make up for a crappy experience. If software had no bugs, there'd be no need for customer service. As a QA engineer, it is my job to ensure that our product is bug free as much as possible.

          The problem is that it is nigh impossible to create bug free code in this day and age, with the complexity of programs nowadays, and also how open the PC platform is. Then you also have to consider things like ship dates and costs. From the QA perspective, we're supposed to find the bugs and only allow release when the product meets our quality bar. Unfortunately, that bar can never be at the "perfect" rate, because that would mean nothing ever ships. (For example, we'd spend years alone testing every combination of hardware, drivers, network configuration, etc.)

          So at some point, we have to ship. After that point, then we have to rely on things like customer service to get a gauge of what we did right, and what we did wrong (bugs that slipped, etc.). There are always new things that popped up that no one had any idea it would be an issue, most often due to external dependencies.

          One example I'll give ... we got a user report complaining that our website was not working at all for him. There was lots of cursing, how we must have been incompetent, etc. Although we could have just ignored him for rudeness, we took the time to investigate. It turns out the issue was due to a piece of malware that had infected his machine. His issue actually had nothing to do with our site code, and there's nothing we could do about it, other than coding some bizarre one-off that detected this peculiar piece of malware and handled it with an appropriate error message. But that's obviously easier to do after the fact, and arguably not something that's a priority. (If you compare a feature that would affect a handful of users, versus working on a new feature that would affect a much larger number ... what would you choose?)

          I guess what I'm trying to say is to cut customer support some slack. Any decent QA department WANTS to fix your problems, and we're not out to just "screw you over" with a bad product. Chances are that your issue is very specific to your configuration, for whatever reason. Yes, your experience does suck, and I completely understand that for a game, you DON'T want to spend hours on the phone walking through your support issue. But doing so may fix your problem, and make the product better overall.
      • To back up the Valve employee, I've had one experience with Valve customer support (game crash for original half-life) and it was excellent. The support was email based and reasonably rapid despite the time difference. The staff were friendly and dedicated to sorting out the problem, which they did. Personally, I can't wait until June 1st, I'm pre-loaded and ready to go!
      • I apologize for the off-topic nature of this comment, but on the off chance that these words may reach someone within Valve I have to say something.

        I love the Half-Life franchise. The gameplay, graphics, and above all STORY are extremely compelling to me. I've had dreams about headcrabs, and have looked into building an HEV costume for science fiction conventions. My co-workers and I used to stay late at work and have HL deathmatch tournaments after hours, and I kept a crowbar hanging on my cube wall.

        I hate
        • Ordinarily "me too" posts are dumb, but in this case I feel compelled: Valve, please port Half-Life (1 and 2) not just to Mac OS, but to standardized technologies like OpenGL and SDL so that you can make them work in Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and other OSs with just a recompile.
    • Contact Steam support. Ask about a refund. Otherwise, I dunno what to tell ya. Most people aren't going to experience the problems you're having. Steam/HL2 works great on three of my PCs here, and two are custom built.

      Also, if your machine is "crashing", it's most likely due to:

      1) Drivers (kernel mode)
      2) Lame power supply
      3) (very unlikely, but hey) The "bad capacitors" problem

      None of which are Steam's fault.
  • Hooray! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jgbishop ( 861610 )
    While I'm not certain that the "episodic content" model will work in the long run, I'm very excited about these new chapters in the Half-Life universe. Half-Life 2 was an excellent game and I'm looking forward to playing through Episode One (an odd name if ever there were one). Hopefully the content in this expansion will match HL2's quality.
    • ...and I'm looking forward to playing through Episode One (an odd name if ever there were one).

      It could be worse. They could've called it something really ridiculous, like The Phantom Menace.
    • While I'm not certain that the "episodic content" model will work in the long run,

      Tell that to EA and the Sims franchise.
      Its like a drug, my missus finds out theres a new pack out and its another hole in the credit card.
  • Didn't I already play episode 1? Does that mean that HL2 was "Episode 0"?
  • What the hell are they?! I searched everywhere for the answer and can't find it - everywhere has nothing but hype about the HL2 singleplayer plot being advanced, how exciting!
    HL2DM is suprisingly fun and well balanced so I might be willing to blow the $20, be nice to know what the hell multiplayer content is being added first though... The marketing on this is really crappy, it's all based on "find out what happens next in HL2" - I just want a simple feature list!
    • One of them is the indescribably wank* HLDM:Source, the other I'm guessing is a gametype I already have from one of my packs or the back catalog. episode 1 can be standalone, so it'd make sense to have HL2DM in there as well but that's speculation on my part.

      *
      remember how big a letdown HL:Source was? with exactly the same low-poly everything, and only new shiny water and breaking glass as the improvements? HLDM:Source is worse.
      • uh, that would absolutely suck - if it is just HLDM rehashed in the source engine plus HL2DM which isn't new and is still a little buggy then that is stupid and totally disengenous of them to claim "two new multiplayer modes". I was hoping for something actually NEW and maybe even innovative. I really enjoy HL2DM, it is sad that Valve seems to be completely ignoring multiplayer these days - they seem to just assume that Counterstrike is the only multiplayer game in the world, if they would put some effort i
        • Hey, nothing wrong with HL2DM! I can tell you have a chipshoulder about a particular bug, or peculiarity which people have learned to exploit to whup you. Do go on. (I'm partially joshing with you, but at the same time I'm genuinely interested if you've found something glaring)*

          * If it's the gravygun thing, I've tried reporting it.
          • My biggest problem is the physics going out - everything drops thru the floor and people warp around like they are dropping packets. The only fix is to restart the server. It doesn't happen too often but when it does it sucks a lot because your only hope is to have an admin fix it. There are a lot of others but that is the big one for me. It's been a known issue for a LONG time too.
            • Never been somewhere with that problem before. Is this with one particular map being on for hours or does it happen on rotation?
              • In my experience it happens usually within about 15 to 20 minutes into a map, I've only seen it happen when a server is pretty full (18+ people) and it seems to happen more often on certain maps and/or when there are a lot of things flying around (orbs in particular). There is a post in the HL2DM forum on the Steam website that has a list of all known HL2DM bugs, this is one of them and is the most annoying (for me anyways).
      • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:23PM (#15398789)
        Err, no, I don't remember HL: Source being a letdown. It was exactly what I expected; HL1 in the Source engine. The huge improvement in lighting quality was quite nice when replaying HL1.

        I should point you towards Black Mesa: Source [blackmesasource.com], which seems to be what you want; a professional quality full remake of HL1 in the HL2 engine.
  • Only 5 hours? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Ant P. ( 974313 )
    For the price of two of these, I could've bought new and got much more than 10 hours of play from it.
    • I haven't really checked (and I'm on dialup for the next few days, so doing so would take forever), but what's the current pricepoint on regular HL2 in boxed vs steam format. Has it gone down substantially?

      I'm expecting the fanboys to do the initial payout, and while I'm a big HL2 fan I'm not such a diehard that I can't wait awhile especially since I'm rather busy at the moment for it or other games (and I've other games which I need to finish when I find time). $20 for 5h is somewhat iffy and subjective.
  • Money Grab (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @06:35PM (#15398206) Homepage
    And thus begins the great money grab. What started as "Expansion Packs" became "Blister Packs" and finally we're at "Episodes". Less and less content for more and more money. Then they start skimming content from the initial release of the game to sell to you later at a ridiculous price.

    Yes, I realize I can vote with my dollars, and I fully intend to. However I want to point out to everybody here that if you purchase this, you are essentially telling Valve "Yes, I buy into this episodic spiel and I love being bent over and taking it repeatedly in the ass as many times as you can release a new episode."

    Enjoy.

    • Re:Money Grab (Score:1, Insightful)

      The problem I have with the release of these episodes is that the source material was gimped. If Half Life 2 was a compelling story on its own, I wouldn't mind spending money to continue it. Instead, we have this gimped out-of-the-box story, that requires additional content to even make sense of it.
      • Re:Money Grab (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Snowmit ( 704081 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:26PM (#15398794) Homepage
        You got +4 Insightful for saying "I didn't like or understand the story in HL2"?

        Lots of people enjoyed the story + gameplay and will happily pay to see it continued. You didn't and so won't pay. That's certainly your perogative.

        Did you think that the story in HL 1 was gimped because the man in black was never properly explained? Did you think it was a rip off when they released two expansion packs and then (gasp!) a sequel? Did you refuse to see Lord of the Rings because they couldn't fit the whole story into a single movie? I'm going to assum that you don't like Lost either. I mean, they gimped the story in that show so hard that it's been two seasons and we STILL don't know what the fuck is going on.
    • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @06:49PM (#15398274) Homepage
      There seems to be very little appreciation anymore for the notion of having a stable business. You must always be growing and raking in more and more money. There's little room for a company to just keep delivering what they've been delivering consistently.

      So if you sell a million copies of a game this year you have to sell two next year. Then four, then eight, then you have to start having upgrades and expansions that have lower productions costs but cost nearly as much to improve your margins and increase your growth.
      • There seems to be very little appreciation anymore for the notion of having a stable business.

        Very little appreciation from who? Consumers? When consumers have lots of choices in a marketplace, it creates a competitive business environment that requires business to constantly change or risk losing against the competition. For example, if Microsoft doesn't venture oustide of their "stable" desktop software market, they risk their software becoming irrelevant through the new generation of web services.

      • Yes, this is how the sharemarket leads to the destruction of companies. Grow and grow until you can only do it by hurting your customers, then they all leave and the company implodes. The smart investors see it coming and take off with vast profits, while the unlucky ones see their money dissappear.
    • I recently bought SiN Episodes: Emergence and I enjoyed it very much, thanks. I also suffered no anal trauma.
      • Re:Money Grab (Score:2, Interesting)

        by LoofWaffle ( 976969 )
        I'm actually pretty disappointed with the new SiN. I know that I'm not paying the 40-50 bucks for a full blown retail game, but I expected more than what I would get from a demo disc. What makes this more disappointing is that Ritual leaned on the game engine AND delivery model that Valve developed, thereby significantly reducing the costs of development and testing. Unless they a) reduce the cost or b) make the episodes longer, they won't be getting any more from me. I'll also avoid the HL2 episode unt
    • Re:Money Grab (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Doytch ( 950946 ) <markpd@gmailFORTRAN.com minus language> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @07:07PM (#15398330)
      How can you possibly say that a 6+ hour single player mode and more multiplayer options are a money grab? Hate to break it to ya, but this is an expansion, and just because they're calling it an episode doesn't change that.

      Anyone care to name five recent expansion packs that feature more content than this?
      • Re:Money Grab (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        6 hours?? That's it? Wow, almost every expansion pack released beats that then.

        Not sure what your definition of "recent" is (nor should time really matter), but here's a few from the past few years:

        Gothic 2: Night of the Raven (30+ hours!)
        Every NeverWinter Nights expansion (that's at least 5 right there)
        Swat 4: Stetchkov Syndicate
        TrackMania Sunrise Extreme (that's a FREE expansion)
        Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil (better than the original Doom 3)
        Morrowind: Tribunal and Bloodmoon
        Call of Duty: United Offensive
        Pai
        • Starcraft: Brood War - over 15 hours, the best ever game released. Still played today.
        • That was interesting or insightful. Though I'm currently playing Morrowind, I'm picking up NWN: Diamond (has all three expansions) and Gothic 2 soon.

          Honestly, 6 hours (even with multiplayer) really isn't all that much. I don't have the time to invest to make multiplayer worthwhile. This includes memorizing levels and item locations, spawn points, etc. Should have been closer to 10.
    • Hey if you have more fun with sanctimonious flaming of a company trying to break publishers' stranglehold on gaming than you do the Citizen Kane of gaming, your loss, and Valve really won't miss you.
    • This would be relevant if Episode 1 was an expansion, but it's more like a sequel. From the Steam store:

      Episode One is the first in a series of games that reveal the aftermath of Half-Life 2 and launch a journey beyond City 17. Also features two multiplayer games. Half-Life 2 not required.
      • Standalone expansion, then. Hardly a new concept. Homeworld: Cataclysm, Jazz Jackrabbit 2: The Secret Files, Serious Sam: Second Encounter, Earth 2150: The Moon Project and Perimeter: Emperor's Testament are some I can remember off the top of my head.
    • However I want to point out to everyone here that if you purchase thes, you are essentially telling Valve "Yes, I buy into this episodic spiel and I love being bent over and taking it repeatedly in the ass as many times as you can release a new episode."

      Where do I send my money again?

      Personally, I don't buy many games, so when I buy one, I want it to be very very good. I am happy paying even twice as much for HL2 as compared to the mounds and mounds of inexpensive crap that comes from other publishers t

  • Oooo (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Konster ( 252488 )
    4-6 hours of gameplay? Great! It rivals HL2 for content! I hope this thing sells for $8.99. or perhaps $9.99 if they include a storyline that was omitted from HL2. HL2 was shockingly short and utterly devoid of a storyline, and attempting to milk me for "expansion packs" for what should have been included in the original release is offensive.
  • Steam (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Since I can read /. on my internet connection, but I cannot play any steam games with it, I have no intention of investing in any more of their products.
    This culture of distrusting end users is absurd, and it only hurts the legitimate users. The pirates always find their way around security.
    Now the rumor is that Sony is maneuvering to license PS3 games and not actually sell you the game disc. ( http://www.gamesradar.com/gb/ps3/game/news/articl e.jsp?articleId=20060524153157765035&sectionId=100 6 [gamesradar.com])
    I've be
  • It's probably only worth 50-60 silver.
  • by cluke ( 30394 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @03:27AM (#15399918)
    Half-Life 2 was episodic as well. You would play through one 'short' episode, and then have to wait a month or so until the next one was released. Oh no, wait, that was the loading screen.
  • I have exactly £1.37 in my pocket. That's how much I'm willing to pay per episode. Period.
  • What I like most about half life game is that it is not just blind shooting of monsters though that is also involved. But you are forced to think while playing the game. It is just like solving a series of puzzling problems inside the game to get to the finishing line. And combined with the superior graphics engine, this is one game which rivals even Quake in game play and enjoyment.
  • *sigh*

    Would have loved to play this. I liked HL2 when it came out. A lot. Played it completely through. Enjoyed every moment.
    Won't touch it again: STEAM.
    Hell of a lot of trouble initially, and then I need to allow the system to Phone Home at every game start. Even when calling the editor - thus, no maps from me.
    And I will never, ever, buy anything using STEAM again. Not even the add-ons to HL2. No support from me, no money from me, and I've convinced quite a few nearly-customers of the same.

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