Valve Drop Hints About Episode Three

By John Walker on October 14th, 2008 at 2:06 pm.

Come on, it would be awesome.

Valve never seem to take traditional routes for announcing new games. Their head of [Insert Appropriate Title Here], Doug Lombardi, likes to leak teeny bits of information to people when they’re least expecting it. To Kikizo, in an interview published last night, he dropped in something about Episode Three. Like you do. Apparently we could hear news about the game before the end of the year.

During the interview, Kikizo nonchalantly ask about the next episode, and receive a peculiarly forthcoming response.

Kikizo: When are we going to start to hear about Episode Three? Because the gaps seem to be quite long based on the first couple of episodes.

Lombardi: Yeah, the next time you play as Gordon will be longer than the distance between HL2 to Ep1, and Ep1 to Ep2.

Kikizo: Won’t you announce or show anything on Episode 3 this year?

Lombardi: We may at the very end of the year.

Those sneaky rascals. And what’s that comment about playing Gordon, eh? Might we… could it be? I haven’t a clue.

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77 Comments »

  1. Simon Jones says:

    Source is far from perfect – load times still seem oddly long compared to the likes of UE3, CoD4 and especially Crysis (which was bizarrely swift). It also has that annoying tendency to stutter like a crazed loon when changing options (which reminds me of the only thing that really impressed me about Crysis – the ease with which the engine could rapidly update as you changed settings). And the seeming inability to play any sound while loading a level.

    Technologically it could be regarded as ‘behind’ compared to other engines but, as others have said, that’s a bit irrelevant, really. Graphics technology is fascinating, but if it plays that crucial a part in your gaming then I can’t help but think you’re slightly missing the point.

    But then again, almost all my favourite games favour art design and gameplay over technology, so maybe I’m just wired that way. :)

  2. Down Rodeo says:

    I think Source is pretty fantastic. One of the things that Valve talked about was the plugin-based nature of the engine, allowing them to change bits as they pleased (though some things, such as HDR, required larger rewrites). Am I right in thinking they use Havok physics, or a partially rewritten version? So in theory, they could take advantage of the potential additions to Intel processors.

    But also, why have crazy mad graphics when you can have a beautiful game (as many have pointed out).

    Yeah, I stole all my information from the commentaries. This is another reason why Valve have massive fanboy status and, quite probably, why they deserve it.

  3. Source enthusiast says:

    source isn’t perfect, but episode 2 looks prettier than any other fps, including crysis

  4. Paul Moloney says:

    27 people playing Unreal Tournament 3.

    Wow, is it that bad? I wonder how they will blame that on piracy…

    P.

  5. Saflo says:

    That’s just on Steam, Paul.

  6. eyemessiah says:

    Personally, I agree about the diminishing returns on engine improvements these days. I was lucky enough to be able to play Crysis on high\very high and I although it presented some nice vistas, I didn’t think there was anything particularly striking about it. In fact there was often a correlation between the quality of the gameplay and the quality of the visuals. For instance some of the internal alien environments looked like they had had a lot of love lavished on them, but proved to be the least popular levels to play through. By contrast the stuff that was fun in the game tended to revolve around crawling through ground foliage that looked horrible. Maybe if they had cut some corners on the engine they could have spent more time on the gameplay?

    Personally I’d rather that valve spent less money on upgrading source, and more money on art, writing and environment design. For the past few years it has been the games that succeeded on these levels that have impressed me most, and not the games with the most powerful rendering engines.

  7. eyemessiah says:

    That said, I agree that some low rez texturing in Portal & Ep2 (eg. the bright green antlion tunnels, remember them? horrible textures – I thought it was a bug!) let these games down quite a bit. I’d like to see source turn up the texture resolutions a bit for EP3.

  8. toejam316 says:

    How could it possibly said the Source Engine is dated? Have you played Team Fortress 2 on high recently? It looks amazing, even though it’s a year old! You, sir, are freaking nuts.
    Not to mention the Source Engine is completely modular, and currently grounded firmly in Direct X 9. All Valve need to do is recode the specific renderer and bam! Direct X 10!
    The reason they haven’t? The support for it is tiny.
    The stats from the latest Steam Hardware Survey state 9.66% of their total userbase have PCs that have DX10 enabled hardware AND Vista.
    Of that 9.66%, 6.13% have GPUs which are good enough to actually be used for gaming. roughly 4.27% of the GPUs are actually good enough to be able to maintain a reasonable framerate with DX10 features enabled.
    4.27% of the total userbase, including duplicate steam accounts.
    Now then, doesn’t it seem they’d sorta be shooting themselves in the foot by pumping more cash into graphically heavy titles based on Direct X 10 when roughly 4.27% of their userbase could actually use these features, assuming they buy the game?

  9. Valentin Galea says:

    It’s simple really:

    In EP3 you are the bastard child of Alyx and Gordon, and your first mission is to gather wood for the fire with the gravity gun.

    Then you’re off to the Combine Elementary School, where you make friends with Strider Jr.

    At the end of the day, you’re tucked into bed by Uncle G-Man who tells you the bedtime story of “The Black Mesa Incident and the Sleeping Nihilanth”.

  10. Eli Just says:

    Sounds like more of the Portal story line to me.

  11. Valentin Galea says:

    That’s because in EP3 your only weapon is the Companion Cube.

  12. Radiant says:

    Also the source netcode is really shoddy.

  13. wien says:

    How could it possibly said the Source Engine is dated? Have you played Team Fortress 2 on high recently? It looks amazing, even though it’s a year old! You, sir, are freaking nuts.

    Of course TF2 looks beautiful. It’s one of the better looking games out there. The point you seem so eager to miss though is that it’s good looks are not due to the Source engine being a technical masterpiece, but rather Valve’s excellent art-direction. Imagine what they could do with a better engine.

    The fact is that Source is lagging seriously behind current hardware in its core architecture, leading to poor utilization of modern hardware. This is why games using it generally are extremely CPU bound, even though they don’t push anywhere near the poly-counts for instance Crysis does. It also limits what the artists can do because they have to limit themselves to what the engine can cope with. This will become a serious problem unless they stop pushing the graphics further or rewrite at the very least the renderer.

  14. Monkfish says:

    Source was designed from the start to be extensible. This means that the engine can be built upon over time; the Source engine as it was in 2004 is quite a different beast to what it has become. It’s just that some people’s perception is that the engine’s been around for a while, so it “must be outdated”. Not really…

    Over the last four years, Valve have added many of the features present in other engines such as HDR, rim lighting, particle effects that are computed entirely on GPUs and self-shadowed bumpmapping. And for the build used for Left 4 Dead, they’ve added physics-based animation and SSAO amongst other goodies. Source is far from outdated in the feature category.

    Many effects, such as the skin on the Vortigaunts or the way that Source renders water are more than comparible to what’s possible in other engines percieved to be more “up-to-date”.

    Also, neither polycounts or texture quality are direct limitations of Source. Just take a look at FakeFactory’s Cinematic Mod for a demonstration of what Source is capable of in that regard. That mod, though, illustrates why Valve have wisely chosen to cater for as wide an audience as possible, by optimising textures and polycounts to a point where they’re perfectly acceptable for gameplay, but don’t have a negative impact on performance. The Cinematic Mod is a 7 gigabyte download and is so memory-hungry, it encounters problems when run on 32bit versions of Windows – hardly acceptable for most PCs.

    Anyway, I don’t think that things like polycounts or texture quality in current Source games are an issue – not unless you spend the entire game studying ground textures or pressing your virtual nose against the walls! After all, we’re not playing static screenshots, y’know.

  15. lilgamefreek says:

    Well for one, there is also the often talked about “leveling off” of graphical improvements in recent games, but also I think that the blurriness sometimes adds to the realism in a game. Believe it or not, but I think there is a point where things become to detailed and too realistic. An example I like to point out is the contrast between the effects in Jurassic Park and iRobot or Journey to the Center of the Earth. Jurassic Park’s CGI is obviously less sophisticated than the more recent movies, but somehow the dinosaurs feel far realer. I like to think that it’s because they are a little blurry and that you can’t see ever individual scale and wrinkly on their skin, that makes this so.

  16. Dain says:

    Also, look at the number of source mods compared to the number of mods in… well, any other engine.

  17. MeestaNob! says:

    Good as confirmed then: Episode 3 = Barney.

    Fucking Awesome!

  18. mister k says:

    Please don’t let Vavle switch from source engine, because then us poor laptop users won’t be able to play the damn thing anymore. I did actually have to turn the graphics right down to run down episode 1 (theres a couple of set pieces which would crash my computer otherwise). I suspect Valve realise, sensibly, that people don’t actually want to pay however many hundreds of pounds just so their textures “don’t look dated”. The games look amazing already, anything else is incremental improvement.

    I’d be happier with smoother performance- i.e. lower loading times and less menu stutter- rather than slighty shinier textures.

    Honestly, listen to yourselves… “that lampost looks flat” ARe you freaking kidding me?

  19. Rhalle says:

    Source is a beautiful game engine, way better than that pseudo-photo-realistic Crytek crap. Source has a depth and artfulness that no other engine even comes close to.

    The reason it looks shitty in L4D is because of cross-platforming compromises; the old L4D character models = PC, the new ones = consolitis in action.

  20. MeestaNob! says:

    Furthermore, regarding the Source engine, it’s been a wonderful servant to Valve and has proven to be very flexible, but it is certainly time for a change.

    One thing that strikes me about the Source engine is how vastly superior it is compared to anything in regards to facial expression and skeletal animations. For all it’s beauty Crysis is let down poorly in this department (eg Crysis Warhead, the emotional aftermath of Psycho’s fight with the Korean in the river… His face hardly moves and yet the voice acting depicts a face viciously contorted with grief…).

    I think by the Episode 3 is out we’ll begin hearing more than whispers about Source 2 and possibly HL3 shortly afterward. This is quite a long way away, so Crysis spec PCs will be commonplace. I’m excited at the prospect of near life like visuals combined with excellent story telling and acting.

    Valve DOES need to move on soon though, they cant upgrade grandpa’s axe forever.

  21. Tuor says:

    As MeestaNob! says, I think we’ll be getting something focused on Barney pretty soon. Notice that there was neither hide nor hair (nor mention) of Barney in Ep 2.

    Barney, IMO, was off on a mission.

  22. Andrew Simpson says:

    In the future, Source games are certain to become less and less CPU bound as they overhaul sub-systems to use their new threading system. Already it’s used for things like particle effects, but it’ll branch out into the renderer, physics, etc.

    I don’t think Valve will ever drop Source entirely, there’s not really much point, as an engine is after all a collection of tools for making games with. If you need a hammer, you don’t buy a whole new set of tools, you just replace the hammer!

    That said, there are some aspects of Source’s core underlying technology that are very Quake-era in their conception, and probably could do with a good ripping out and replacing. Stuff like changing the way maps are stored to allow seamless loading, that kind of thing, and doing that will require a fairly major overhaul, but of course that won’t touch in a major way things like sound or input, so that code will probably stay the same.

    It’s the old Athenian ship question, essentially, how much do you need to change before it’s new?

  23. Jeremy says:

    I’m perfectly happy with the source engine. But then again, I much prefer stylized animation over something trying to be realistic. If they want realistic, they should go out and videotape some people. Give me quality art, voice acting and gameplay over anything else. That’s why I only have a PC and a Wii.

  24. Bodo says:

    OH COME ON. Valve Is´nt so stupid. They know what is game engine and they know what their customers can run. Everybody doesnt have High-End PC for 600 bucks. And comparing 5 years old Source Engine to the Hyper-Realistic CryEngine 2 that uses all new lighting and shadowing techniques ? THATS BULLSHIT. I think that Crysis was developed for testing, benchmarking and blowing up new graphics cards. That game doesnt beat Half-Life 2 in a terms of gameplay. When you buy Crysis and lagging like hell on every resolution and every detail setting, Crytek will probalby laugh into your face that you are a noob that cant run this beast on 16xQFSAA with 16xAF. But who gives a shi*? I can run HL2 Episode Two on Pentium 4 and 8800 GTS on very high with 16xQFSAA and 16xAF without ANY problems and i get like 40000K better gameplay than i would get with Crysis. CONCLUSION : CryEngine 2 is a future of game graphics. SOURCE is the most comfort and the nicest engine ever created (because it can run on every machine and its shader-based rendering looks incredible). SOURCE BEST. CRYENGINE ONLY FOR FANATICS. Long Live Source, Steam And Valve … The Future Of PC Gaming.

  25. Scandalon says:

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – source needs to be fixed. Some people keep mentioning how much time and care Valve put into their game – my contention is I wish they’d put the same care into their work, without having to do so much, well, work. (Then maybe their “episodic” content wouldn’t take 2 years each…)

    http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/unrealtournament2007/show_msgs.php?topic_id=m-1-44602754&pid=928117 Sums it up nicely.

    ‘ve done maps for Counter-Strike Source, Team Fortress 2, The Ship, Doom 3 and Unreal Tournament 3. So I’ve used Hammer (Pre- and post Orange Box), Radiant (D3 build) and UnrealED (UE3). And out of these three, I have to say UT3 with the UE3 tools is just the best of the bunch.

    I wouldn’t say Radiant/D3 engine was able to make me to happy so I’ll just compare Source and UE3 which are really close in quality to each other. Things that give UE3 an edge over Source are:

    1. Your lightning is visible in the editor itself, which is a major advantage, a couple drawbacks though are once your lighting gets fairly complex you’ll need to build your lights to see an accurate representation and because the game is effectively running in the background it makes the UE3 editor a very system intensive one. But overall, it’s an advantage, a fairly big one!

    2. Because the game runs in the background, playing your map is a breeze. With Source you always need to compile and go out your editor and into the game, taking time and effort. In UE3 it’s almost effortless, though it does crash occasionally, so save before you play

    Before I go ahead, I do wish to say Doom 3 also ran the game in the background and could show lighting in the editor. But the engine wasn’t qualitatively up to Source as a standard and UE3 is, even beyond perhaps. So, on with the list!

    3. Importing custom content (textures/models) are excellent!! In Source it all works too, but it’s such a hassle, writing text files and compiling and compiling. In UE3 it’s pretty much as simple as exporting out of your 3d package and importing into UnrealED.

    4. UnrealEd (as always) still allows you to scale models. You wouldn’t believe how often I’ve had a model in Source that I’d like to have just slightly skewed.

    5. Particles (emitter) effect and sound are audible in real-time in the editor, again, saves lots of time and effort (but again, it’s partially the reason why the editor is very system intensive)

    .

  26. Pengwertle says:

    Hello! I come from five years into the future, the year 2013, to tell you Episode 3 has STILL not been announced.