RPS Interview: Episode Two’s David Speyrer

By John Walker on November 8th, 2007 at 4:27 pm.

Coming up in December’s PC Gamer is my interview with Half-Life 2 Episode 2’s project lead, David Speyrer. And as is often the case with interviews, there was a lot more said than could fit in the magazine. As a teaser for next month’s Gamer content, here’s some bonus discussion about what it’s like working for Valve, how play-testing impacts on the games development, DX9 vs DX10, and the role of consoles. Spoilers a-go-go.

DOG?!

RPS: Could you talk about your role in the Half-Life universe?

David Speyrer: I interviewed on the day that HL1 went Gold, and started early in the year in ’99, at the very beginning of HL2. I was on the project for the whole duration. Towards the middle of the project, we formed into four cabals – mini design teams – for design and production, and each team was responsible for building a section of the game. I ended up as the cabal leader of the team which made Canals and the Citadel. I was a programmer. I worked on the air-boat, the poisoned zombie and a bunch of other things. Then on Episode Two I’ve been on it from the start as the project lead and programmer. I did specific work on the Hunter AI and some of the car stuff.

RPS: What do you see are Valve’s motivations to continue making games? Surely money can’t be a big part of it any more?

DS: That’s not really true. We have a lot of employees. We’re close to 150 people, I guess. We have to pay everyone’s salaries. Also, this is pretty much what everyone wants to be doing anyway. We’re kind of stuck. We’re just going to keep on making games. I think everyone has a strong interest in the next thing. And when the next thing becomes the current thing, everyone develops an even stronger interest to see it through to its potential, and get it finished and out the door. And then there’s always a period of collapse at the end where half the team is saying, “I can’t even think about making games right now”. And then a month later, everyone gets really excited about what to do next and what gameplay experiments they wanted to run and the thing they always wanted to see in our games… which builds a momentum of its own. It’s what we all love to do. It’s such a special company to work at. Everybody feels pretty lucky to get to do it with these folks.

OMG SPOILERZ!

RPS: I recently replayed Episode One on the Hard difficulty setting, and found that while more challenging, it didn’t have quite the same flow. Playing Episode Two on Normal, it once again had that steady, continuous sense of progression and challenge. How do you go about trying to deliver this?

DS: We play-test every week with an external player throughout the development process. Sometimes we’re doing it maybe twice a week. The whole team watches every play-test. We’re really looking for places where people are dying a lot and reloading a lot. What you’re really seeing is just the result of hundreds of hours of observed play-tests. The high level goal which we keep in mind is that dying a bunch in the same place isn’t very fun. We absolutely saw in Episode One, through our Steam stats gathering set, there’s a strong correlation between a spike in player deaths and players quitting and not picking the game back up. That made us really aware of the danger of a difficulty spike in your game. We invest a lot in our story and the game as a whole, and we want players to get all the way through the game, we want them to get the most out of the game and to see the end an be satisfied by it. We work hard when we see a problem in the play-test to smooth those out.

RPS: Have you any examples from Episode Two?

DS: The solutions to the problems can be as disparate as the maps themselves. There were the tunnels where the Ant Lion guard – the cavern guard – is chasing you, and you’re trying to get to the larval extract. That was one of the early places where people died a lot. In that case, the solution was to add a bunch of clear landmarks so players could tell where they were. It really is a bit of a maze through there. We added a stronger visual design, more clear landmarks, and we simplified the maze so there was a more clear forward direction, so players could know they were getting nearer the end. Initially it was very circular with a lot of loops, and players would often be going back towards the beginning with no idea. We saw players get stuck in that level for over an hour, which was very frustrating as the whole time they’re being chased by a monster which is killing them over and over again. Another place people died a lot was the last map. That was largely owing to all the options we present for how to fight that battle. There were ways of attacking that final fight we hadn’t considered in the design, but became obvious when we watched play-tests. We would have to watch sometimes four play-tests or so on a map before we’d see patterns start – like there’s a whole class of player who doesn’t know about any of the alt-fire.

Everyone ready for the best game of 40:40 ever?

RPS: The big hint was handy for me there. I hadn’t realised that it was the ultimate way to destroy the Hunters.

DS: I’m glad you caught that. A lot of players miss that. So we were initially relying heavily on the alt-fire mechanic for beating that map, and we steadily had to introduce other means for different players. There’s a lot of logs around you can pick up and throw at Hunters, for players who know about doing that. There’s also rockets around you can use to pick off the Hunters for players who know about the RPG. Then there’s the [Overwatch Rifle’s] alt fire ammo in that map. And you can drive around in the car and run over the Hunters. That’s another way.

RPS: Those damned Hunters. It was a strange moment – you’re finally given this incredible way of wiping out the uber-bads, the Striders, and then the Hunters do their best to stop you using it.

DS: It’s this whole tug of war between you and the Hunters who are protecting the Striders. But tuning that map was mainly about providing a whole palette of options for players with different play styles. That was kind of a unique problem for us in the franchise. We’d never given players so much freedom to fail before.

RPS: If I had a cricitism of Episode One, it would be the formula showing through a couple of times. A number of sections were three-stage puzzles, or three-part tasks. But this didn’t seem to occur in Episode Two.

DS: We try to make our training feel as natural as we can. In the Citadel of Episode One, you’re dealing with such abstract mechanics at times – the Combine balls, the grabbers and the light bridges and all that stuff – that it’s kind of hard to express training for those scenarios in any format other than doing them. Episode Two’s setting being very natural and pretty real-world – there’s not a lot of wacky sci-fi stuff in Episode Two – so we were able to hide the training. And we spent a bit more time building Episode Two as well, so what you’re seeing is we were able to smooth out the rough edges of our training and move some of it into entertaining character dialogue and things like that. Maybe it’s just a function of spending more time.

Together at last.

RPS: You chose to not use DX10 for the new games. Why was that?

DS: For this set of products we decided to use some DX10 features, but not through the API itself. It’s because we didn’t want to be Vista only. We didn’t feel there was an enough of an install base for the Orange Box launch. I’m sure we will use it – it’s pretty much inevitable. But this time, things like the hardware face morphing is implemented via a back-door API.

RPS: DX9 can do what DX10 offers then?

DS: Yeah, but through driver-back doors. And I’m sure we’ll rethink it at some point. For this roll out it was fine to do it as we did.

RPS: The Crysis team said they can’t do their day/night cycles in DX9 and they need DX10. [This question was asked before the DX9 hack for the Crysis demo was uncovered] Would you say it’s not true?

DS: Not for the features we’re doing now, but maybe down the road. Maybe even for Episode Three, there may be something which makes it mandatory to go after. We pursue that stuff on a case by case basis, purely on whether it gives value to our customer. What do our customers get when we make this investment?

RPS: Has including consoles in the Orange Box development changed how you go about things?

DS: No, not really. Other than how it affected the schedule, which was large. The simultaneous launch on the PC and X360, with the PS3 lagging a little behind, meant we had to be finished well in advance of when we’d normally be finished for a PC launch. The time between ‘gold master’ and ‘street’ is pretty short on the PC. But with the whole certification process on the console, that can’t be the case. The biggest impact was it creating a really odd shipping cycle for the team. Normally we’re accustomed to working really, really hard, going gold, and then having a short period of time before everyone is playing the game, with everyone really exhausted from the shipping push. It’s really exciting. This time we had a bunch of people on the team who had’t had anything to do on Episode Two, or the Orange Box in general, for quite some time, ever since the 360 build went into ‘cert’. Because when the 360 build is done, you’re not going to substantially change the game. It meant you were happy with the console product, and our goal was always to have the 360 product to be first class, of parity with the PC product. If we’re happy with that, then by definition we’re happy with the PC product. It was a pretty relaxed shipping cycle after we hit cert, but going to certification was a huge push for the whole company. We had people play-testing in shifts around the clock getting to certification.

RPS: The other thing that stood out was quite how funny this new episode was. The introduction of Magnusson, and oh God, the microwave joke. Looking at the whole of the Orange Box, it’s kind of a theme. Was this intentional?

I guess that I hadn’t really considered the fact that all three games in the Orange Box have a pretty good dose of humour to them. I know in Episode Two we did really want to bring more humour into the franchise. I mean, Half-Life had plenty of humourous moments, if a dark kind of comedy. The setting and premise of Half-Life 2 was pretty dark, and we did try to make you believe in the Combine oppression of humanity. But over time, as a team, we wanted to bring back some of the Half-Life humour into the franchise without diluting the sense of gravity. There’s a lot on the line for humanity and there’s real consequences for major characters in the game. Once again, back to the contrast thing, having the humourous moments makes the dark serious moments feel more impactful, I think.

Best father in a game ever.

RPS: I think you’re right. It gives you a greater scope for believing in the character’s emotions. When Eli told me he was proud of me… I felt a bit daft. I felt so moved!

DS: I react in the same way to that line. It means a lot to me when I hear him say that. Also, Chet and Eric Wolpaw are writing here now. The Old Man Murray guys. They inject a lot of great humour. Eric did pretty much all the writing for Portal, and that dark humour really comes through there.

RPS: It’s a shame that Episode Two can’t end with a song.

DS: Yeah, that song is great. I also really liked, “You’re the fastest subject to ever kill your companion cube”. And then you feel bad. Was I really the fastest? C’mon!

RPS: A trailer for Episode Three was notable by its absence.

DS: We deliberately left that out for a number of reasons. One was we didn’t want to dilute the moment of the ending. I think if you’d watched the credits roll and then this high action Episode Three trailer came on, you wouldn’t quite feel the same. Another reason was to leave us open on Episode Three. We’re going to try and do something pretty ambitious for that project. We don’t want to over commit. If you look at the Episode Two trailer that we shipped with Episode One there’s some pretty radical difference between what you see there and see in finished game. That’s really an artefact of making a trailer for a product that’s still in heavy production. You just don’t know where you’re going to end up.

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71 Comments »

  1. drunkymonkey says:

    Um, is the first image not a bit inappropriate to put on the front page of the site? Seems to me like that’s a massive spoiler.

    (this coming from someone who hasn’t played it yet)

  2. Ace says:

    I don’t see how it’s a spoiler, Dog isn’t dead there. (is that the picture you mean?)

    (And shouldn’t the title of this article be “..Episode Two’s David Speyrer”?)

  3. Cian says:

    Is it wrong to take from this interview that play testers are thick?

  4. John Walker says:

    Crikey, thanks Ace. Good spot – I’m a moron.

    And no drunkymonkey – that’s not a spoiler at all. I picked it on purpose.

  5. drunkymonkey says:

    Ah, then in that case consider me buggered. I just assumed DOG was dead, is all.

  6. Jack Monahan says:

    Cian: yes and no. Many are thick, but those are often the best for getting quality feedback from. The lessons learned from shepherding the dumbies through a given level make the game better for everyone–don’t think of it as being “dumbed down.” That silky-smooth sheen and flow of the game experience is a testament to those weekly and bi-weekly playtests.

  7. Cigol says:

    Was he ever really alive?

  8. Ace says:

    Does anyone know where they get their playtesters? If they playtest as much as they say I’d think they’d go through a lot. They can’t just have the same group of people testing things over and over? And if they’re testing “a whole class of player who doesn’t know about any of the alt-fire” they look at casual gamers as well as hardcore gamers, who I’m sure would line up in the streets to playtest. Do they pick people off the street? Should I start hanging out around Bellevue?

  9. Nick says:

    I thought the finale was rubbish, there was no time to enjoy fighting the hunters, it was just charge around, kill hunters asap (usually by running into them), kill strider, charge back to get a new bomb, repeat. Tedious, I was so happy when they stopped appearing and I could have fun again.

    Then it ended.

  10. Nuyan says:

    Cool interview.

    I loved the final level by the way. Was one of the most amazing parts of whole HL-2 and I completed it on first attempt, thought I wasn’t going to make it all the time.

    Now for something different. I was just reading a news-paper and saw a photograph of the riot-police in Georgia. Just look: http://www.reuters.com/news/pictures/articleslideshow?articleId=USL0752768220071108&start=15

    Funnily enough Georgia is one of those countries where City 17 could be located.

  11. Andrew B says:

    Wait, what’s this about the alt-fire? Seriously, someone want to clue me in?

  12. Masked Dave says:

    Microwave joke?

    Also, re: dumb testers, you need to design your system (or game in this case, but it applies to all software development) for *anybody* to be able to use. As Jack says above, this doesn’t dumb things down, it just means the interface isn’t getting in your way to do what you want.

  13. Masked Dave says:

    Andrew, the alt fire which produces the Super-Combine-Laser-Ball thing kills the Hunters with one hit.

    I generally didn’t have enough ammo for that though, and my aim is shit. Rockets all the way!

    Also, I wish I’d known you could runover Hunters. *headdesk*

  14. John Walker says:

    The microwave joke is when Magnusson has a go at you for destroying his food in the microwave at Black Mesa – a callback to the moment in the original Half-Life, right at the beginning, where you can press lots of buttons on the microwave to make the contents explode.

    And yeah – when he told me about running them over, I felt so stupid.

  15. Piratepete says:

    Well I loved it. EP2 for me really shone in the last hour or so from the Combine trap with the car through to the end.

    I also found parts of it incredibly moving (but then I have a 9 week old daughter so I am a bit soppy at the moment), and it was a brilliant device to create a real connection with Eli then shatter it with the bit at the end.

    For me HL2 shows everything that is good about PC games without being over the top, gory, sadistic or any of the other slightly disturbing things you se in a lot of games recently.

    I liked the comparison to Hollywood movies in the PCG review as well. It strikes me there is a great comparison between Vlaves HL2 series and Citizen Kane by Orson Welles, both really pushed the boundaries of technology in unique ways, whilst conveying a meaningful story,

    Rosebud=G man. hehe

    :)

  16. Piratepete says:

    I ran over all the Hunter btw. yay me :)

  17. Tom says:

    wicked interview. interVs with Valve employees are always interesting.
    Clever how Valve leave the final round of play testing to us, the paying audience, then chill and mull over the results.
    No doubt Ep3 will be spectacular.

  18. Don says:

    I ran over all the hunters and am slapping myself for not remembering the alt-fire Massive Hint dialog, so I guess its a case of the grass always being smarter…

    Took me a LOT of tries to get through it.

  19. Feet says:

    I killed the hunters solely using the car too.

  20. Theory says:

    Does anyone know where they get their playtesters?

    They go down to their local game store and ask random people. It’s that simple. :-p

    I thought the finale was rubbish, there was no time to enjoy fighting the hunters, it was just charge around, kill hunters asap (usually by running into them), kill strider, charge back to get a new bomb, repeat.

    That was my experience too. Hopefully I’ll be able to do it a little differently when I replay it (fixbloomplzvalve!).

  21. Nick says:

    I really enjoyed the laser wall village trap part too, probably my favourite action part of EP2. Funnily enough I had parked the car and explored the house before hand, wondered why it was full of ammo and health, then drove on…

  22. Cradok says:

    I liked that the house trap could be detected, but if you thought about it logically, you still had to spring it the hard way. No ‘Gordon gets into a metal coffin. Twice’ foolishness here.

    And found out about the alt-fire by simple testing everything to see just what the hell was effective against these things, and the offencive uses of a car bumper came to me right off, but on the flip side, I spent ages trying to use the Magnessons on them, and I didn’t realise until my second go around that you could smack them in the face with logs, or that their little darts could kill them instantly…

  23. Jeremy says:

    “or that their little darts could kill them instantly…”

    Wait, really? I always wondered why that achievement was on there, but every time I fought them, I jumped around like a freak to not get skewered and never paid attention. Oh well, next run, I guess.

  24. Cradok says:

    Yeah, you have to let them stick something, then toss it at them. You might also be able to get them to stand on them, or catch them in a crossfire, but I was never successful trying to get either to happen. Either it can’t, or I suck.

  25. Mario Granger says:

    Something a few years of programming and a lot of mod beta testing has taught me, the best playtesters are idiots.

    I’m not trying to be a smartass, or insulting. Not bright people are simply very good at showing you where you’re getting a bit too over ambitious in your design.

  26. PleasingFungus says:

    I ran over pretty much all of the Hunters. Ammo for the Pulse Rifle alt was too scarce for me to kill them all that way, though I did what I could.

    I definitely noticed the RPG ammo and great big logs hanging around, but had poor results with the former (against Hunters) and never really had time to experiment with the latter. Also I am impressed at the people who managed to kill the Hunters with their own ammo – my attempts resulted in the syringes detonating before I could shoot them.

    My favorite moment of humor? The bit with the Pulse Rifle demonstrator and the audience member. Caught me completely off guard.

  27. Bill says:

    I really didn’t like the achievement system. I’m the type that has to rewind to make sure I don’t miss anything and it sort of killed the flow of the game that I enjoyed in HL2 and Episode 1. When Episode 3 comes around, I’m going to try and turn off the notifications before I’m tempted to read the achievement list.

  28. Iain says:

    I caught the Overwatch rifle alt-fire hint, and used it quite a bit when fighting Hunters in the silo, but in the pitched battle at the end, I just figured it would be a whole lot quicker just to run the feckers over. Grand Theft Gordon, if you will.

    I didn’t actually find Episode 2 that funny, though it did have a few good moments – the microwave reference was brilliant – not only because I remembered blowing up the pot noodle (of whatever it was in there) in Half-Life, but because Magnusson would a grudge over that rather than, y’know, bringing humanity to the brink of extinction…

  29. ran93r says:

    I failed many times trying to kill the hunters with their own ammo, got the achievement in the end but i’m sure it was just through random luck and me being bloody minded about getting it done.

  30. Jachap says:

    I killed pretty much everything with the car when that was an option. I was just sad that I couldn’t use it to knock the striders’ struts out from under them and then ram them to death.

    Also – here seems as good a place as any to ask – in the final level, a strider, evidently irritated by my hit and run tactics, booted my car right into a tree, where it hung, Jurassic Park style. I had to use the gravity gun to dislodge it.

    Did that happen to anyone/everyone else?

  31. Juror #9 says:

    wow that didn’t happen to me…but i did have a strider boot the car at me and pin me between the said car and a darn tree. I died, obviously. What i would hope to see in EP 3 is the use of those Hunter weapons, little explosive tazer darts. That’d be nice. But what’s going to be cool will be the tie in with Aperature Science. Teleport gun? maybe? This last EP will be a damn sweet one.

    Great interview yet again…R.P.S.

  32. Gap Gen says:

    I do agree with Zero Punctuation’s ‘Uncle Tusky’ criticism of Episode 2, though.

  33. pikov says:

    Where were you all finding the alt-ammo? I was only able to kill one or two that way. In earlier encounters with them, I found radiators to be quite effective. The logs were less so. Shouldn’t there be saw blades at the sawmill? That is the ultimate gravity gun ammo – when I replay I’ll have to look for more blades.

    I ended up mostly using the car – that was the fastest way to deal with them. Pack a magnusson onto your car, run over the hunters, kill strider. I think I even got the hunter acheivement that way – he shot my car with the darts, I ran into him and he was stuck in my windshield when they blew up.

  34. v.dog says:

    I got the hunter achievement by using a radiator as a shield and running at it. It fired several rounds into it which exploded as I hit the thing.

    As for the final battle, I mainly used the car. I knew the overwatch pulse rifle did one hit kills, but I was so used to having so little ammo for it that I didn’t use it.

    And John, you changed the title, but not the tags.

  35. MGS says:

    There was at least one combine ball which respawned at the complex south of the water towers but I definitely didn’t find enough to kill more than a few hunters with them. I managed to get the “kill with their own darts” acheivement by chucking a radiator at one when you first meet them more by luck than judgement which I was quite chuffed with. I found that running them over was surprisingly effective. I was playing for acheivements from the off so was looking for ways to kill them quicker so I could protect the sawmill which the second strider destroys.

  36. kevin says:

    Valve has lost its edge. EP1 & EP2 were both a rip off at what they cost and the game play was too short. This releasing episodes instead of one massive game is a terrible idea. the only loser will be the fan base. Valve makes 2- 3X the money and the fans get shorter games with less replay value.

  37. Mikey D says:

    no offense kev but ur chattin utter rubbish, the orange box aint a way of bringing bac some of those fans?

  38. Seth Tipps says:

    I found out about the hit-and run trick by accident, but never really used it that much. I had far too much fun with the double-barreled shotgun until I ran out of ammo, throwing the explosive tanks at them, and it is worth noting that it only takes a few shots from the crossbow to bring one down.

  39. Snakker AddicT says:

    Jeez wat a Great game hunters are very easy for me to kill.Yes ep2 was short but good,the end though made me feel like shit poor alyx eli is gone so it makes ep3 much more interisting
    P.S. My PC has gone MAD the actual Date of my post is November 20 at 5:23 am

  40. Traxx says:

    @ Nuyan http://www.reuters.com/news/pictures/articleslideshow?articleId=USL0752768220071108&sta

    LMAO, georgia definatly could be city17 hahaha i cracked up seeing that :P

    And great interview,

    Tho i dont agree a trailer for ep3 would break down the ending of ep2, i think they did it more likely to (like they said) not restrict themselves to much, and on the other hand probably because they dont know what its gonna be yet :P but still great job and i wish the episodes were done already because man i just can keep on going just wanting to continue the story hehe. great job valve

  41. bullsmack says:

    great game,

    i hope that they make ep3 a bit longer and with alot more content, though this was much i would rather see more HL then two other games for my 60 bucks. but i also hope that they have a good link between portal and hl2.
    MY BIGGEST HOPE IS THAT IT ISNT A SHORT GAME . and that i cant beat it in 2 days. id like a story to last at least a week of play as long as it doesnt get redundantly boring. which i know they look at that when making these games as well. well i can say that it certainly wasnt that.
    oh and by the way,,, i killed the hunters i think every way you could kill them except running them down. everytime i tried to run one over he seemed to get out of the way. but i sucked at steering the car because i always had turbo pressed,lol

  42. Initialised says:

    Hunters are a pain in the arse. That level was fantastic though “Magnussen’s misgivings about The Freeman were thoroughly justified” every time the silo goes up in smoke. There were some other good death captions. I didn’t have much luck with hit and run and didn’t try hurling logs, mainly used the magnum (3 hits to the face) and crossbow (2 hits to the face) once I’d run out of plasma balls.

    For the car bit I would have liked to be able to pop the boot and stash spare medkits and ammo and Flat Out style Gordon flinging (at least for fatal crashes) would have been good for some slapstick.

    One thing I’d like to see as an adjunct to the HL2 series is something along the lines of Blueshift. It’d be great to play it through as Alyx or Barney and even better as Dog. I think a Dog game would have to be 3rd person, imagine playing something like the last level of EP2 as Dog. Speaking of Blueshift what happened to Barney after the evacuation at the end of EP1?

    Portal made me feel really weird for developing an emotional bond to a computer that was trying to kill me, I almost cried at the song. Usually I feel kind of deflated when I complete a game (what, that’s it?). But the pacing and build up that Valve do (thanks to the huge amount of playtesters) makes it more like the feeling after watching a really good film (I’d love to see some ‘out-takes’ during the credits).

    Can’t wait for HL2:EP3. Valve, I challenge you to make me cry!

    ps. Anyone know where I can get a Georgia Riot Squad Comedy Gas Mask(TM)?

  43. Angry Gordon says:

    I wiped out all the hunters with the corwbar. And the two advisors at the end.

  44. nikitango says:

    portal was kinda odd and weird for me but ep2 was even wierder for me because i didnt even understand the storyline that much but it was really annoying to see the ending because it was really bad and left a cliffhanger

  45. the Free man says:

    I think that Ep 3 would be well to realese in another box serious maybe include a Portal 2 game to lead into the begining of Ep 3. And a co-op version for the 360 would be nice. imagin playing co-op with a friend when one of you has the grav gun and the other a portal gun. Think of the endless possibilities as far as strategic combat! plus it would send the re-play value thru the roof. Other than that keep it up. I will wait another 6 years for a new engine if they wish as long as they keep making a series this fantastic. (you all remember your first time seeing one of the e3 hl2 vids or the first time playing thru hl2 and the first headshot…. ahhh)

    As far as the hunters go I took most of them all out with the grav gun and the logs. If you can get them to shoot the log for you it’s a nice clean one shot kill.

  46. vitor says:

    eu acho q ate o dia 10 de outubro de 2009 ja sera lançado o hl apisode three e eu vi na revista q vai sai hl3

  47. Michael says:

    hey i had a question about half life 2 episode 2, umm i heard there gonna create hl2 ep3, well about hl2 ep2. at the end of ep2, when eli died from the advisors, i was wondering if it is possible that eli might come back to life?

  48. Michael says:

    so message me back about it ok
    thanks!

  49. hl2 junky says:

    hey i heard that in hl2 ep 3 youll see a bit of actuall videos like where your character moves and looks around on its own and also a flashback of dog before alyx added on to him.

  50. hl2 junky says:

    when i ran down a hunter for the first time its head/body thing got stuck in my windshield and i couldnt see it turns i kill like 5 well i was blinded rofl!