Valve “Not Giving Up On Single Player At All”

By Quintin Smith on May 9th, 2011 at 3:49 pm.

I hate it when you eat fast-food and can feel it going straight to your eye.

A couple of weeks ago we were speculating on what US journalist Geoff Keighley meant in his iPad-only documentary The Final Hours of Portal 2 (yes, iPad-only) (I DON’T KNOW) when he said…

“Portal 2 will probably be Valve’s last game with an isolated single-player experience… What this all means is something Newell is still trying to figure out.”

…and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and many were the bottles of Coke Zero accidentally upended onto keyboards by corybantic nerds. Now Ripten‘s reported on an interview with Gabe Newell where he explains most of what he meant. Click through the jump for the quote in full.

Newell said…

“I think what we’re trying to talk about is the fact that, not that we’re not doing single player games. Portal 2 was a pretty good example of what we’ve learned over the years in terms of how to create those experiences. It’s more that we think we have to work harder in the future, that entertainment is inherently increased in value by having it be social, by letting you play with your friends, by recognizing that you’re connected with other people.

“…That’s the thing that we’re trying to say, is that, single player is great but we also have to recognize that you have friends, and we wanna have that connected as well. So, it’s not about giving up on single player at all, it’s like saying, we actually think that there’s a bunch of features and capabilities that we need to add into our single player games to recognize the socially connected gamer.”

Which sounds like Half-Life 3 is going to ship with something a little more potent than a deathmatch mode. What do you think, readers?

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132 Comments »

  1. Vinraith says:

    What do you think, readers?

    I think the more time and resources spent on MP components and social networking garbage, the less time and resources spent on crafting a quality single player experience. That is, I think a developer is always better off making up their mind what they want to do with a given game and then doing it, not trying to be everything to everyone with every game.

    • Rii says:

      It’s no fun when you go ahead and win the thread right off the bat like that.

    • Imxset21 says:

      I think Battlefield BC2 did a pretty good job injecting a semblance of a singleplayer campaign. It definitely had some nice set-pieces, at the very least. Everyone knows DICE’s game is in MP, but you it didn’t suffer at all because they spent more time on the SP campaign.

    • markcocjin says:

      I think you don’t understand how Valve really works.

      Experimentation and making something new is what Valve is all about. For the rest of the game developing community, it’s all about making the next game to ensure continued employment.

      Valve is not interested in making more of Half-Life 2 in Half-Life 3 or Episode 3. They’re a group of very talented individuals who each work on whatever they find interest in. They don’t want to work on something that they’ve done before. That’s too boring.

      Valve wants to challenge themselves by being part of what’s next in gaming. You’re probably wanting something like a Call of Duty series. If you look at what they decided with on TF2′s design compared to what came first, you could tell that they want something new.

    • The Hammer says:

      Vinraith,

      Are you trying to say that Half Life 2: Episode 2 was not of the quality it could have been because it was brought out along with Team Fortress 2?

      Not as on-the-ball, but is that the same with Half Life 2 and Counter-Strike: Source? And does Portal 2′s co-op mode and ‘social networking’ aspects make for a weaker single-player experience than if it had, like its forebearer, been strictly made for one player?

      I don’t think any of those single-player games were compromised at all by their multiplayer components. For sure, games faced with smaller budgets and tighter development time limits will probably fare worse if they try and combine the two (look at Homefront, for that), but this is not a discussion about Microsoft, Epic, Zynga, or Activision; it’s about Valve. To complain about Valve going on these cutting-edge jaunts into the Facebook-inspired abyss is akin to, in the past, complaining about any of the innovations they have championed – such as digital distribution, PC matchmaking, mods-cum-games, HDR, and content patches.

      Not that I’m accusing you of being a luddite (although with your labelling of social networking features as ‘garbage’, you flag yourself up for such criticism), but Valve projects an attractive future, as opposed to all the dodgy, arbitrary, and ill-fitting implementations that, say, Games For Windows provides. Whatever the copy protection/customer service/privacy gremlins of Steam, it’s a smashing service for communities and groups of friends. What’s more, they’re entirely opt-in and opt-out. If you’d rather just have a single-player experience, you could play Portal 2 offline, and party like it’s 1998. A new player introduced to the game that way would be none the wiser that it comes with co-op features, or added bits and pieces that let you socialise your experience.

      Ugh, and I know this looks like I’m having a rant at you, but this caught my eye too: “a developer is always better off making up their mind what they want to do with a given game and then doing it.”

      Really? Because I’m playing Bad Company 2 at the moment, which has a single-player mode bolted onto the main, multiplayer game. And, although it isn’t up to Valve quality, it’s a perfectly fun game. The four main characters are a hoot to gun around the world with, and the pacing of the level-by-level structure is really rather spot on. Now, the single-player isn’t really the main draw of BC2, but I reckon it makes it a better product because of it – there’s simply more of it.

      The same could be said of Borderlands, which combines its single-player with its multi-player. Sure, in the case of Borderlands, it has none of the set-piece brilliance of Half Life or the potent open-endedness of STALKER, but it’s an enjoyable game in its own little niche.

      Multiplayer is not the anathema to a good old fashioned single-player experience. In the examples where multiplayer features encroach onto single-player – see: Halo 3 – this is down to shoddy thinking on the part of the devs, and certainly not because there is something inherently flawed to a system wherein multiplayer sits alongside single-player.

      Just hoisting the banner for a positive future, there.

    • Nevard says:

      “A developer is always better off making up their mind what they want to do with a given game and then doing it, not trying to be everything to everyone with every game.”

      Forgive me if I am wrong, but is that not what they ARE doing?
      That statement pretty clearly indicates that Valve has decided what they want to do with their games and fully plan to do it, it’s just not the same as what you had planned for them to do with their game

    • Vinraith says:

      I’m amused that the notion that resources are finite is something people feel is up for debate. Valve fans are funny.

      Are you trying to say that Half Life 2: Episode 2 was not of the quality it could have been because it was brought out along with Team Fortress 2?

      Those were developed independently by two separate teams.

      Not as on-the-ball, but is that the same with Half Life 2 and Counter-Strike: Source?

      As were those.

      And does Portal 2′s co-op mode and ‘social networking’ aspects make for a weaker single-player experience than if it had, like its forebearer, been strictly made for one player?

      P2 was made by a larger team with a larger budget than Portal 1. You understand that “finite resources” doesn’t mean “the same resources from game to game or time to time” right? And yes, if P2 had been constructed with the same resources entirely spent on single player or co-op, those elements would clearly have been more substantial than they were with resources split between the two.

      We can go on and on like this but there’s not really any point, is there?

    • subedii says:

      So basically you’re saying that somehow, they didn’t sacrifice quality of the singleplayer for the sake of the multiplayer.

      I mean the SP of Portal 2 would be more “substantial”? I can sort of understand what you’re trying to say, but I can’t see how they would have added anything that wouldn’t have been ancillary. Nor do I feel that any part of it was particularly sacrificed.

      That’s kind of what people are getting at here. If the SP of Portal 2 had been bad, felt unfinished or generally unpolished, those allegations might have had some weight. But like you said, larger product, larger team.

      EDIT: Also, dismissing people’s comments by saying they’re those of “Valve fans”? Yeah, that’s an ad-hominem. And saying it doesn’t make them sound stupid. Honestly, it makes the poster look a bit silly because, well, they’re going after the person instead of the comment. I’d suggest not going that route.

    • The Hammer says:

      Vinraith,

      In your reminder to us that resources are finite, are you implying that Valve are in danger of not having enough resources to do what they want to achieve with any given game if they try to combine a single-player and a multi-player aspect? That they embark on projects without thinking them through? You say later that the budget and team size for Portal 2 was vastly bigger on both fronts than it was for Portal 1. So? Why is this relevant to your notion that “a developer is always better off making up their mind what they want to do with a given game and then doing it, not trying to be everything to everyone with every game”?

      “If P2 had been constructed with the same resources entirely spent on single player or co-op, those elements would clearly have been more substantial than they were with resources split between the two.”

      Are you sure about this? In what ways could Portal 2 could have been improved if it only had a single-player to think about? Is Half Life any more than a single-player yarn than Portal 2, because Portal 2 has a multiplayer? And, if you think Valve should have included just one or the other, considering the hugely positive reception that Portal 2 has garnered, who do you think would agree with your opinion on that front?

      Anyway, your assertion said, directly, “a developer is always better off…” – not a team. Pedantic maybe, but it’s a point worth making.

      And, on your tone: lay off the unneeded condescending “Valve fans are funny” angle, would you? I don’t see what it brings to the discussion, other than you being able to honk the ‘old man’ horn. I actually haven’t bought a Valve game since Left 4 Dead 1. I’m actually arguing more for synergetic games than for Valve’s sake.

    • Delusibeta says:

      Ehh… Valve is probably second only to Blizzard in having a resource generator in their studio. And I think Newell was thinking more in the line of how Battle.net incorporated Facebook when he made that statement. And I’m pretty sure the Steam team is separate from their game teams.

    • The Hammer says:

      Delusibeta,

      Sure, like mentioned earlier, Valve is a special case. But because they’re a special case, they don’t have to make decisions that cripple the longevity of their games.

      But then you have developers like Relic, makers of DOW2 and Chaos Rising, both of which I hear had stellar single-player campaigns, on top of the usual, and expected, Relic mastery of competitive RTSes. I’ve even heard say that DOW2 had a stronger single-player than its multi-player – not too bad at all for a developer who predominately makes online/LAN focused RTS games.

      Also, as far as combined single-player and multi-player go, I think Creative Assembly will be very interesting to watch in years to come, as they try and grapple with making multi-player a defining part of their games. I somehow cannot see single-player losing out on this (although, to be fair, the Total War games are ostensibly multi-player anyway – you just play them with bots).

      It’s just pants to say that a single-player game could be better if it didn’t have a multi-player. It’s an assertion that assumes that the attention spent on a single-player game could go on and on and on and on. That somehow, more work spent on a game is always a good thing. For an analogy: saying that children’s picture books could have be better stories without all the illustrations cheapening them. More time could be spent, perhaps, on character development, sentence structure, and back story. Which is, of course, bollocks.

      There are a host of developers bulking up their games with more than one mode. Sparing your single-player game a multi-player mode sometimes works – it certainly works for The Witcher – but it didn’t spare Bioshock an Internet backlash thrashing, and Dragon Age: Origins and its sequel are still routinely criticised. Meanwhile, GTAIV has all the features of San Andreas – and more! – while still offering a multi-player game. Is the MP as good as Battlefield 2? Well, no… but does it have to be? It’s there, it’s an an alternative, it’s enjoyable.

      On a final point: I’d argue that Half Life 2: Episode 2 was a better game than Bioshock, but how can this be so, if we follow the logic in this discussion?

    • Vinraith says:

      “Valve fans”? Yeah, that’s an ad-hominem.

      It wasn’t intended as one, whereas I’m quite certain “luddite” was.

      Are you sure about this? In what ways could Portal 2 could have been improved if it only had a single-player to think about? And, if you think Valve should have included just one or the other, considering the hugely positive reception that Portal 2 has garnered, who do you think would agree with your opinion on that front?

      Yes, I’m sure because the statement is logically self-contained. And no, I’m sure most of the folks here on RPS won’t agree with that, though I’m quite certain many of the gamers out there that don’t play online co-op (and tend not to hang around online message boards) would have preferred a longer SP experience.

      Anyway, your assertion said, directly, “a developer is always better off…”

      And I did, indeed, misspeak there. Gamers are always better off when developers make up their mind, developers actually tend to make a killing being everything to everyone, which is why they all keep doing it. If a game has strong MP element and a tacked-on SP element (as so many AAA titles do these days), I as an SP gamer would have been better served if they’d focused on one or the other. If they’d dedicated all their resources to MP, made that experience perhaps a tiny bit better for the MP crowd, I couldn’t possible mistake the game for something interesting and the MP folks get a better game. If they decided to concentrate their resources into the SP, then SP gamers get a strong title and MP gamers can spend their money elsewhere.

      I’m actually arguing more for synergetic games than for Valve’s sake.

      Why bother? “Synergetic games” are clearly winning. The best selling AAA titles released these days have some social networking integration, some tacked-on SP, and a huge MP component. I’m disappointed to see a developer whose SP games I always enjoyed talking about going the same route as the EA’s and the Activisions, wherein the SP component is an afterthought. You are of course free to argue that won’t necessarily be the case. Maybe it won’t, but history doesn’t paint an encouraging picture. When it comes to SP vs. MP for a big developer, SP always loses.

    • subedii says:

      I’m disappointed to see a developer whose SP games I always enjoyed talking about going the same route as the EA’s and the Activisions, wherein the SP component is an afterthought. You are of course free to argue that won’t necessarily be the case. Maybe it won’t, but history doesn’t paint an encouraging picture. When it comes to SP vs. MP for a big developer, SP always loses.

      Well, you know, apart from where they’ve actually said that they don’t want to abandon SP, or sacrifice SP in favour of MP, or make SP an “afterthought”. I feel like the quoted segment from the article I posted below largely covers that sentiment.

      For that matter, making SP an “afterthought” to the MP certainly wasn’t what I was seeing in Portal 2. Not by even the grandest stretch.

      You are of course free to argue that is necessarily be the case. Maybe it is, but the neither the history so far nor the actual comments appear to paint that picture (and I’m not just thinking of Valve here either).

    • McCool says:

      I have to completely agree with Vinraith here. The ridiculous ad-hominem responses are rather missing the point. One caveat I WOULD add is although trying to be all things to all people is generally a bad move and that even Valve’s resources are finite and better spent ANYWHERE than exploring whatever the hell it means to be a “social gamer”, this is bloody Valve we are talking about. You have to suspect that no matter how bad an idea this sounds, they’ll pull it out the hat and make it work.

    • Bhazor says:

      Reply to Markcocjin
      “Experimentation and making something new is what Valve is all about.”
      Which in the past few years has amounted to one (co-developed) original game, two addon packs, a string of sequels (HL2, TF2, CS:S, P2, L4D2 QPR 3 2 WBA), and a few mods they bought (DoD, DotA, Narbacular Drop, that paint one they used in Portal 2).
      Great developers? Yes.
      Experimental? Questionable.

    • The Hammer says:

      “I’m disappointed to see a developer whose SP games I always enjoyed talking about going the same route as the EA’s and the Activisions, wherein the SP component is an afterthought.”

      But Vain, surely you can see that this is just hysterical complaint on the basis of one statement of intention? Why on earth would Valve, a company that has pioneered no less than two styles of FPS, want to follow EA’s or Activision’s examples, when Valve have consistently shown that they’ve no desire to dance to those two companies’ drums? Judging by the mega-success of Steam, they simply don’t have to, and no one is obliging them to do so.

      You yourself state that you’ve always enjoyed Valve’s single-player games, and they aren’t changing. Portal 2, arguably, is their best game to date. Could it have been longer? Maybe, but how far can a game go before you tire of it? Longevity doesn’t always mean quality: there are huge tracts of the often rambling Half Life that could have been omitted, and other than being able to say “I got my money’s worth, time-wise!” nothing of value would have been lost. See: children’s picture book example.

      It might not – and probably isn’t – down to an additional multi-player game anyway. Games have been getting shorter for a long time now, and that’s because of how hungry the current crop of games are for highly detailed assets. The original Half Life is low-fi, and its textures and models did not take as much time to create as the ones for Half-Life 2 and its episodes (one of the reasons why the modding scene of Half Life 2 pales in comparison to the one for Half Life 1 a decade ago). Other factors, like voicework, facial expressions, music and scripts all contribute to shorter games. I’m sure you know this, though.

      Should games be longer? I can’t say I look back on Half Life 2 and think of it being too short. It’s a bit of a foggy pronouncement, isn’t it – that a given game should have more levels, more hours? It’s an assertion that doesn’t really take into account what in specific could have been added. In regards to Portal 2, it’s getting some free DLC eventually (I say ‘eventually’ because, when considering Valve, it is pretty naive to say ‘soon’).

      I will say one thing: The Half Life episodes are/were a bit of a farce. Knowing then what I know now, I really would have preferred a straight-up sequel, these seven years on.

      EDIT: I just cottoned onto your question about why argue for the winning side.

      I just don’t like to see the ‘winning side’ villified and dismissed in terms of absolutes. Gamers often come across as highly conservative, and scorn ideas that haven’t yet had a chance to truly shine. So many good ideas with initially awkward poster-boys – say hello to athletic first-person movement with Mirror’s Edge – go down the pan, unexplored because of lukewarm, or even hostile, receptions.

      The popularity of certain systems of gameplay can be a good thing. It is often up to devs like Valve to harness an idea which has been unlucky elsewhere, and give it the best shot it can.

    • Vitruality says:

      I think what Vinraith says is broadly true except for the fact that resources are not necessarily as limited as he makes out, by which I mean that the amount of resources committed will be broadly proportional to the amount of money they expect to make at the end of it. If they think they can get more customers by adding in multiplayer (which I assume they do) then that increases the amount they can afford to commit as a whole. Speaking as somebody with no friends I would much rather they did concentrate on single player, but the one does not necessarily detract from the other, especially since a lot of the code, assets etc. can be shared between the two modes.

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      Man I wish I could play the Portal co-op levels by myself. It is hard to synchronize with another person given my responsibilities. I need to be able to start and stop playing whenever I can. Social/multiplayer games will never, ever work for me at this point.

      I can maybe drop into a deathmatch or something, since that requires very little coordination. But co-op? Meaningful co-op? I haven’t had the real opportunity for that since seventh grade.

      It’s hard knowing that there is more content for Portal 2 that it will be very difficult for me to ever experience.

      Does anyone else feel this way?

      If Valve’s focus allows them to create content that can be enjoyed either as singleplayer or co-op, then that’s fine with me. But I did not buy Left 4 Dead, and I never will.

    • DrGonzo says:

      The coop in Portal 2 was my favourite bit. I don’t understand what your getting at Vinraith. The singleplayer of Portal 2 may have been more substantial without it yes, but the game would have been significantly worse as a result.

      Is it that you don’t like multiplayer so you don’t want it? If so, I disagree, it’s my favourite bit.

    • the_fanciest_of_pants says:

      Vinraith always has been one to get cranky about anything that doesn’t relate to single player.

      See now that’s ad hominem. But also true!

    • The Hammer says:

      Hey icup,

      “I can maybe drop into a deathmatch or something, since that requires very little coordination. But co-op? Meaningful co-op? I haven’t had the real opportunity for that since seventh grade.”

      I can see why this would irk you, but there are ways to co-op anyway, with a little bit of investigation: Valve have provided an infrastructure for communities of like-minded gamers with Steam, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun even has its own Steam Community, of which many members, I’m sure, want to get their fix of Portal 2 co-op. I know that with co-op you’ve got that extra bit of pressure so you can’t pootle on as normal (RPS mentioned this very same thing in their verdict), but I’m sure it’s easy enough to find some means of playing through it with a pal or stranger.

      As for feeling like you’re missing out: when in the past have you received new single-player stuff for free? With Portal 2, you got a full game for your money, just like Half Life and Half Life 2. The added free content is optional to play. Do you really object to that?

    • Vinraith says:

      @the_fanciest_of_pants

      Actually I quite like 2 player co-op, always have. Beyond that it just gets too hard to coordinate with friends.

    • jalf says:

      Experimentation and making something new is what Valve is all about

      No, buying teams who experiment and make something new is what Valve is all about. And then they’re all about focus-testing the shit out of it for the sequel.

      Still. They make enjoyable games. That’s the main thing.

    • JiminyJickers says:

      Yeah Vinraith, I’m with you on this one.

    • Wowza says:

      @Bhazor: Considering that pretty much all of those games except L4D2, CS:S, and DoD were drastically different from the original mods or games (don’t know about DoTA since it’s not out yet), I wouldn’t say that they’re completely unoriginal.

    • Jolly Teaparty says:

      I think Valve know what they’re doing better than all of us in this thread put together. I say take a look at Portal 2, realise they deserve the benefit of the doubt, and trust them to deliver.

    • Kaira- says:

      @ Jolly Teaparty

      You forgot the part where you say, “your mileage may vary”. I myself think that Valve could easily have spent much less time than 4 years between Portal and Portal 2, especially given how mediocre Portal 2 was.

      Your mileage may vary.

    • NegativeNancy says:

      @markcocjin: “If you look at what they decided with on TF2′s design compared to what came first, you could tell that they want something new.”

      Absolutely. They want new money.

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      I realize this may be anecdotal BS, but I can’t imagine SS2 or Half-Life or (gasp!)Deus Ex would have been better with co-op or single-player-plus elements. I do respect the fact that Gabe Newell is far smarter than me, but, for now, I am in Vinraith’s corner on this one. There’s gotta be a great editorial in this somewhere. “Gaming With Inhibitions: The Rise of Co’op,” maybe.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      System Shock 2 had co-op. I think it was patched in later, but it was in fact a lot of fun.
      Also, Half Life had Sven Co-op, which was also a blast even if it over-inflated hit points on everything.

      Nothing for Deus Ex though that I’m aware of.

    • Tams80 says:

      @ Rii

      Play up! Play up! And play the game!

    • Mo says:

      Vinraith, I don’t disagree with you per se, I’m a huge proponent of minimalism and focus in design.

      However, Valve’s idea is “single player with a social component.” If they do this right, the social aspect wont be a bolted on feature, instead it will be thoughtfully integrated & designed, such that it wouldn’t really make sense as a separate entity.

      This happened over a decade too, you know? Half-Life combined FPS mechanics and story driven level design. There were gamers who said, “I’m into gameplay, story just limits great gameplay.” Half-Life proved that FPS gameplay and story could be tightly integrated into one great experience. One didn’t work without the other.

      Maybe that doesn’t appeal to you, heck, I’m not sure if it appeals to me either! But I’m sure whatever Valve releases will be thoughtfully designed, and won’t feel tacked on.

    • sexyresults says:

      Not everyone who disagrees with you is a Valve fanboy you coont

    • Tatourmi says:

      I don’t really think that your whole statement is “self contained” as it supposes that the amount of resources make for quality and, because of this, that quality can be quantified objectively. Being “self contained” is not really that easy (And also arguably a source of universal truth and certainty).

    • mechtroid says:

      @vinrath
      “Those were developed independently by two separate teams.”
      So why can’t Portal 2′s development have been done the same way? Why does it follow that multiplayer and social networking by definition must be developed at the expense of singleplayer? If Valve can make TF2 and Half Life 2 at the same time without damaging the quality of either game, why can’t it do the same for Portal 2 and Portal 2 co-op? Or are you saying that development of TF2 damaged the single-player portion (read: all) of Half Life 2?

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      @The Hammer

      My own time constraints make if difficult to spend more than a few unplanned minutes here or there playing games. That’s why I spend a lot more time reading and talking about them than I do enjoying them. I get a buzz by association. Planned gaming sessions are few and far between.

      There is no such thing as a free lunch, though. Any content in a game is not free and extra. It represents time and resources that could have been used to create something else. I would prefer those resources to be deployed elsewise than to a separate and distinct co-op mode, if I had my druthers.

      Again, if Valve’s focus allows them to create more integrated solo or co-op experiences, then that’s absolutely fine by me. I would be free to experience it in the way that suits my lifestyle. But so long as I don’t have good time or opportunity to co-op, I am essentially locked out of the co-op content of Portal 2. We could argue whether my resistance to co-op is valid or not, but you sound like a reasonable chappie and I think you see what I’m saying.

  2. Tyshalle says:

    Is that picture straight out of the game, or is it modded/photoshopped?

    • westyfield says:

      The glasses are modded/shopped. Possibly some facial restructuring to make it look a bit like Gabe Newell (I think that’s who it’s meant to be?), but I can’t remember what the original Boomer looked like so I’m not sure.

    • RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

      Its modded :)

    • Ricc says:

      Oh Quintin, you rascal.

  3. AndrewC says:

    ‘Half Life 3 is going to ship’

  4. grasskit says:

    is there a mod to make boomer look like Gabe or is it some sort of easter egg?

  5. Sfyreas says:

    “iPad-only documentary”
    Couldn’t concentrate on the rest of the article cause a big WHY was blocking my sight

    • adonf says:

      WHY ???

    • Tei says:

      That way the authors can sell the article, and make money with it. Its also a interesting medium for the format “magazine”. Scrolling photos, zooming photos, … fit well with a iPad. And probably a bit of experimentalism. Would this work? Journalism exploring new areas.

    • skinlo says:

      True, but it also fits well on a PC :(

    • Oozo says:

      I’m with Tei here. I happen to have access to an iPad an read the documentary there – you can still see how it is a prototype of sorts, what with suddenly forgetting basic typography wisdom or having “features” that look like the shortest way from the app to iTunes. (And this being the iPad, there are no short ways from one app to another, never.)

      But there are hints of genius – e.g. that little window where you can try out what momentum with portals works like, thus really saying more than 1000 words. So, I’m not unexcited. There’s the naïve hope that one day, journalists could make a living just independently publishing long-form coverage like this, or at least that magazines or newspapers will be able to put html to better use than just putting the damn same articles online they already had printed before.

      PS Yes, there are no features there that wouldn’t work on a PC.

    • Ricc says:

      I’m not sure if that’s a great idea in general for the AppStore. From all I’ve heard Keighley’s app is well done, so it’s probably worth the money. On the other hand, some could accuse him of just adding some fancy layout and graphics to what’s otherwise an eBook.

      The AppStore is already full of throwaway apps, that you only really look at once. Others will follow this example (because you can charge more for it than plain text) and do it worse, therefor cluttering up the place even more with glorified eBooks.

    • Bhazor says:

      That is nothing.
      The next Bjork album is being released as a series of iPad apps.
      http://consequenceofsound.net/2011/03/bjork-readies-ipad-album-biophilia/

      Shes come along way in understanding technology
      http://www.metacafe.com/watch/878978/bjorks_t_v/

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yes it would work great with an iPad. But it would work well with my pc, as said earlier, and on my Android phone and various other devices. Limiting yourself to iPad seems a bit crazy.

    • Coldblade says:

      It does work well on PC. Just download that document in .pdf from the Internet and you won’t miss anything important. iPad only, what a load of crap.

  6. Daniel Rivas says:

    I think it means “we still think achievements and leaderboards are a good idea,” and fair enough.

  7. skinlo says:

    I don’t have friends.

  8. Rii says:

    Mr. Newell should be a politician. I’ve parsed that excerpt twice now and so far as I can see he said nothing of any substance whatsoever.

    And ‘corybantic’? Fuck off. :P

    • fallingmagpie says:

      Word for the day!

    • formivore says:

      corybantic – from Corybant, a wild attendant of the goddess Cybele. Cybele is an earth mother type, so imagine nerds dancing around in some frenzied, Coke Zero-fueled fertility rite.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      That’s kind of why I’m so puzzled at these ridiculous discussions about allocation of development resources and hat sales. This statement was so vague that we don’t even know what the fuck he’s talking about, which makes me think that this is pretty on point: “…what this all means is something Newell is still trying to figure out.”

      I’ll wait until I get some ACTUAL information before I raise my pitchfork. For all I know, this just means that HL3 will have Facebook integrated achievements or something.

    • Jake says:

      What a great word. I’m going to have to go and really infuriate some people just so I can say it.

      E: shit I got it wrong and said corybango.

  9. gulag says:

    Wat?Q?Q

    Nerd rage was misplaced? How could this happen???

  10. Headache says:

    Any co-op/multi player component under development I have to imagine will have to follow a different storyline based around the resistance movement we’ve seen through HL2 and its episodes. (That is unless they decide to time jump the story ahead again and change the world’s landscape.)

    I simply don’t want to play a co-op game where someone can play as Alyx or DOG, I’ve already invested in these character and seeing them bunny hop around a level would just be too game breaking for me.

    • Sinomatic says:

      I’d imagine in the way that you don’t play as Chell + another in Portal 2 co-op, that Valve would agree with you.

  11. Tei says:

    This is mosly “no news”.
    Kotaku converted a simple comment into a article.

    Valve want to not miss any opportunity, and online, Internet, online communities, theres still a lot of uncover potential. Valve want to use that potential, but don’t know how, yet.

    • subedii says:

      This.

      It was one soundbyte that Kotaku took out of context, and even on its own it still didn’t say that Valve were abandoning SP games like Kotaku were reporting, and that other websites were apoplectically re-reporting.

      “Non-story” is precisely the right term for it. It was obvious right from the frigging start that Valve weren’t “Abandoning SP Games OH NOES!” but that’s how everyone wanted to report it.

      It was certainly readily obvious to Kotaku, who less than six months earlier were running another excited piece about how Valve were the only dev who continued to care about SP games.

      http://uk.kotaku.com/5685129/theres-at-least-one-developer-still-rooting-for-singleplayer-games

      Which was based off of the last page of this Gamasutra interview, where the interviewer’s pretty clumsily trying to outright tell Erik Johnson that there’s no longer a market for SP games, which he swiftly shoots down.

      http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/6198/rewarding_the_players_valve_on_.php

      That article’s relevant also because it easily explains exactly what Valve were talking about half a year before people started raging about Valve abandoning SP games, or tacking on “useless” MP, or other crap.

      EJ: I think there is an interesting question in how many projects should be offline products and how long that is going to be viable. Half-Life 1 was a really offline product. I think customers want to find ways to talk about the thing that they are a big fan of with other people, and ideally experience it the same way.

      That doesn’t mean every game needs to be multiplayer. With single player games that were completely in a box, and there was no way to experience anything else, I think there are things that customers want that those games don’t take advantage of.

      That could just mean that you want to be able to chat with other people who are playing through the same part of the game as you, or the fans can write commentary nodes in the game and everyone can experience those to take advantage of the fact that there is a huge community of people that want to interact with each other. I still think the analysis that every product needs to be a competitor in multiplayer, or an MMO, is incorrect; there are a lot of people who want an experience without the stress, so I don’t see that changing.

      EJ: Part of it is thinking through he reasons for making decisions. You brought up piracy being a reason to not do single player, which I think is a pretty crazy analysis on an issue like that; that’s making a decision for your customers about the types of products you are going to build without, by definition, including your customers in that at all.

      You’re saying that because of these pirates, you get no single player experiences, which makes no sense to me. If there are as much players that want single player experiences, you should go build that. I think there are plenty of people that still want to have single player experiences. Look at Mario; those games do really well.

  12. Raye says:

    As long as it’s truly completely optional, and you are not made to feel like you’re missing something significant by not playing with someone else (games designed from the ground up as a primarily multiplayer experience excepted, of course) or whatever else it is they’re talking about, would be fine with me. SOME people feel a game is incomplete without a multiplayer aspect, others value a single player experience. I wouldn’t want to read a book with someone peering over my shoulder, for the most part games fall into the same category for me. There are some exceptions, I have played an MMO in my time (City of Heroes) and did enjoy it, but even there I did solo an awful lot… and Portal 2, I bought the 2 pack with a friend, and I will admit, we both had a blast. But I certainly don’t want to play every game that way, in general I’m not a fan of multiplayer.

  13. Mattressi says:

    I thought (and still think) that the original quote and his additional explanation were pretty freakin’ obviously saying that there would still be ‘singleplayer’, but that they would be adding the ability to play it with other players (also secretly known as CO-OPERATIVE MODE). It never sounded like they were going for all-out multiplayer death match games from now on – it sounded like they were making sure that their singleplayer games would all support co op as well. I don’t understand where all the rage came from (bar my own, of course, which came from all the people who instantly assume Valve are saying they’re only going to be making Call of Life for console toys).

  14. Monchberter says:

    It all sounds simple enough from a developers POV. More people spend more time playing games with a multiplayer / coop experience than they do single player games, which have limited appeal. On balance a good multiplayer offers more a developer more player time per game than a single player game.

    Although this leads to a simple conclusion. Gamers who prefer single player games will likely play another companies single player game, than play your own companies multi-player game exclusively.

    This sounds very much like Valve trying to ensure a more committed audience while missing part of the point.

  15. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Exactly what differentiates Mr. Newell answer with what Valve has been doing so far? He seems to speak of some new grandiose solution… but that is no different from any other game offering SP and MP on the same package so far…

    But this bit here troubles me: “So, it’s not about giving up on single player at all, it’s like saying, we actually think that there’s a bunch of features and capabilities that we need to add into our single player games to recognize the socially connected gamer.”

    If this means that the single player experience is meant to start including multiplayer (or online social features) then I fear this will necessarily diminish the SP experience of anyone not using or wishing to use those features. It effectively allows SP to be comparable to MP because they are now being played at the same level, with SP being an inferior experience. And the only one possibly losing is SP, because Mr. Newell is very careful in supporting “social experiences”, but has absolutely nothing to say about single players who just want single play.

    • Delusibeta says:

      Again, I’m thinking of Battle.net in Starcraft 2 when he made that statement. “Social aspects in mah single player game!”, as the Engineer might say. And if you don’t want that, there’s Offline Mode.

    • Tengil says:

      It could also open up for creative stuff like Demon’s Souls for the PS3 which is mostly single-player but compensates for being more difficult than you’d expect from a modern game by letting other players leave hints in the gameworld that you can read.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      But that’s nothing new. It doesn’t go in line with him saying: “So, it’s not about giving up on single player at all, it’s like saying, we actually think that there’s a bunch of features and capabilities that we need to add into our single player games”

      He plans to devise new (and a bunch) social features and capabilities into the single-player experience. What features and capabilities are these, he speaks not. But isn’t talking about adding social features to multiplayer versions of the game. Instead to single-player versions of the game.

      Mr. Newell wants to go places, clearly. What I fear though is that he wants to offer SP as a MP bait, covering the whole thing behind a thin veil of “we care for the gamer”. Problem is, multiplayers don’t feel rejected or badly treated by Valve. Single players do. And this… well, it compounds the effect.

      I’d rather have Valve just not produce SP games anymore and be straight about it, than making me feel my love for SP negatively contributes to Valve’s desire to support the online community.

  16. The Hammer says:

    Post-Edit Whimpering: Woops. I faffed up here – IGNORE.

  17. Tuor says:

    If they want to add more stuff to the Steam Overlay, then that’s fine. If they want to make a seperate co-op experience/gameplay, I don’t have a problem with that, either. If I have to wade through a bunch of social networking crap in order to play through a single-player campaign, then I’m going to be a very unhappy camper.

    From what I understand (as I haven’t played it), Portal 2 has a single-player campaign, and then there’s a co-op campaign that is also included and does not in any way intrude upon the single-player campaign upon which the main part of the game is based. I *hope* that this is what Gabe is talking about expanding upon in the future, and not about some sort of juxtaposition of single-player and co-op.

  18. bhlaab says:

    I am a reader and I think I’m sick of the looming spectre of social media seeping into every pore of my daily routine

    • bhlaab says:

      I am still a reader and I also want to point out that I’m immediately suspicious that this is nothing but a transparent attempt to sell me fictional hats.

  19. Jad says:

    single player is great but we also have to recognize that you have friends

    … who don’t play videogames. Or who play on a different platform from you. Or have different schedules and time commitments.

    While having the option for co-op is nice for those who can take advantage of it, I’m really worried about a future where large sections of games are cut off from people who don’t want to play with strangers but who can’t play with people they know.

    I’m feeling a bit of pressure this week, in fact, in regards to Portal 2. I have one friend who has the game on PC, and he might play it with me this week, or he might play it with some other people he knows. If I’m busy this week (which looks likely), I’m realizing I might not ever play the co-op portion of that game.

    I can go on Call of Duty deathmatch and play with total strangers and have a reasonably good time, even if half the people there are morons. I have no interest playing Portal 2 co-op with those people. If Portal 3 is entirely co-op, then I will buy CoD 12 before I buy that, because I’ll actually be able to play it on my own terms and at my own time.

    Everyone has friends. Not everyone wants to or can play videogames with those friends.

    • Tei says:

      “Or have different schedules and time commitments.”

      Is called Play-By-Mail. Is nothing new. You play against “saves” of your friends. Gratitous Space Battles lets you fight against army created by your friends. A race game could let you download runs from your friends, so you compete against then in “ghost car mode”.
      So you play on your own terms, but also against human opponents (that are different, and more interesting than a artificial intelligence).

    • DrGonzo says:

      “Or who play on a different platform from you.”

      They seem to be trying to address that what with PS3 being compatible with PC in Portal 2 coop.

    • Jad says:

      @ Tei

      Sure, and that’s fine, but PBEM is not appropriate for a large number of game types — basically anything that isn’t turn-based. I don’t know what play-by-email Portal 2 co-op would even look like.

      @ DrGonzo

      Of course that’s an issue when PSN is down for weeks. =)

    • Josh W says:

      One set of players play as the robots, another player plays as GLADOS

  20. DSR says:

    Smart move.
    You can’t sell overpriced imaginary hats in a singleplayer game.
    Coop, mp and leaderboards(Who bought the most hats) are future of Valve games.
    I hope they’re thinking about how they can hopelessly bloat their 7 year old engine with another cosmetic feature(yay shadows from flashlight!) instead of rewriting it for good.

    • Rii says:

      I’ll take the visual presentation of Valve’s games over that of pretty much any UE3-based title any day of the week.

    • Sassenach says:

      Rewrite it for good? If they rewrite it they’ll have an engine that will stand the test of time until the universe implodes? Or something?

    • Bhazor says:

      No seriously, the Source engine is starting to look really ropey now.

  21. Muzman says:

    It’s not clear this has anything to do with what ol’ GN is talking about but this is something that has been kicking around in my head for a while.
    It’s a bit like Quinns’ account of the whacky Action Half Life (2?) map filled with bizarre reality bending puzzles that needed to be solved co-operatively (by players ostensibly there to play team deathmatch against each other). I was also thinking of Demon’s Souls which was notable for being so hard people would often band together online to help get through it (I’ve never played it, just read about. But I remember the mechanics encouraged it, or something). Also think of those weird internet puzzle sites so bare bones you type the answer in as the address for the next challenge and the buzz of people working together to figure it out around the ‘net on forums and such.

    I picture some sort of game designed to be like that. Seemingly impossible and impenetrably hard, you’ve got to practice, get a group together, come up with a plan and execute properly to get to the next bit. Some aspects of it few people see and they can develop a mythical quality.
    The bulk of the game people see is essentially the social arena/lobby/practice area and ARG-ish materials scattered around to be discussed online and get clues etc.
    It’s got qualities of Raiding in MMOs, but without the leveling and grinding and you don’t have to live there. But it’s also like Portal 2′s co-op except I can picture maps that require five or six people working together to complete.
    I’m not even sure what sort of game it has to be. I lean toward first person and the kind of mystery in the Action Half Life level. But it doesn’t have to be I guess.
    Basically it’s terribly vague and sounds straight out of science fiction (largely because it is). Seems like the kind of highly involved lateral-thinking game design Valve could pull off though.

  22. passingstranger says:

    A company doesn’t craft games like Half-Life, Half-Life 2, and the Portals without knowing the incredible value of a well-crafted single player experience as well as the fact that many experiences can only be achieved when the player is alone. It’s clear no one has to worry about HL3 having drop-in co-op.

  23. Text_Fish says:

    More words from Gabe: http://www.develop-online.net/news/37625/Newell-Weve-moved-beyond-the-episodic-model

    Do not like.

    Creative people should not be at the beck and call of customers.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      How can they move beyond the episodic model when they never actually moved into it? By their own admission they never got anywhere close to what “episodic” is supposed to mean. (Hint: Telltale.)

      I can’t imagine this in any other field. “We didn’t FAIL at releasing games, we just MOVED BEYOND the need to actually release them.”

    • Muzman says:

      You can’t think of another field that spins a stumble and/or a redirection as, not failure and inconsistency, but confidence, reaffirmation and ‘drive’?

      I can’t think of a field that doesn’t.
      (ok, the many of the sciences are pretty good)

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I just wished people stopped interviewing Mr. Newell, because he clearly has nothing meaningful or useful to say.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      When you put it like that, Muzman, you have a point.

    • Kaira- says:

      Sometimes I feel like Valve has too much in common with 3DRealms. They have way too much money for their own good, they have absolutely no idea what to do with it and so forth.

    • The Hammer says:

      “I just wished people stopped interviewing Mr. Newell, because he clearly has nothing meaningful or useful to say.”

      Haha.

      EDIT: Eh, should probably explain my spontaneous burst of laffter.

      Even if you don’t agree with Gabe Newell half the time – and you’d be disagreeing with a man who predicted the current indie game boom, as well as the proliferation of digital distribution, among other things – to come out and actually say this seems absurd.

      Newell inspires huge debate. He has led Valve since the day it started, and has brought it to a level where it could conceivably be called the PC platform’s most important developer. Some people point to Valve having only finished a handful of games since their founding, but that’s missing the point. Every game they make has some resonance – whether huge or subtle – on the rest of the industry.

      If you actually listen to the interview this article is sourced from, you’ll find some really interesting and useful stuff that Newell talks about. I’m not really sure what provokes you to dismiss him outright, but, y’know, he is a veritable sage of the gaming industry – close your ears to him, and you’re missing out.

    • Bhazor says:

      Christ, that interview does not bode well for people who don’t like micro-transactions.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      @ The Hammer

      Really? A sage? Do you actually expect me bow to this type of sage wisdom:

      Asked if he thought the episodic games model was a success, Newell said: “I think that we accelerated the model and shortened development cycles with it”.

      Let me answer that for him (I’m now Newell):

      Success? We only did two episodic games back in 2007 and never again ever since. What do you think? My PR informed I should avoid this question and the answer should be “I think that we accelerated the model and shortened development cycles with it”. But then I though: Wow! That doesn’t make sense, does it? I mean, if we accelerated the development process, how come we have been releasing so few games since then? Hell, we didn’t even release episode 3! Faster development process = more games, no? Instead, the simple matter of fact is that one simple game, also launched in 2007, changed Valve’s life forever. It was called Team Fortress 2. And that type of gameplay has been our focus ever since. Why, you ask? Do you have even the slightest idea on its returns when compared to Half-Life 2? Shit! We are still making heaps of dough with Team Fortress 2, some 5 years after launch. It’s insane! And the hats thing… don’t even get me started on that. Loads of money, man! So yeah, L4D, and anything else in the same vein is what we want. Screw episodic content! That’s so in the past. And this thing nagging me about turning Single-Player into a form of bait for Multiplayer really is the next thing too. We at Valve simply moved in a different direction but my PR department doesn’t wants me to acknowledge that just yet. We want to release Half-Life 3 with loads of multiplayer bait and thus we need single-players to keep believing Valve makes games for them.

      (not being Newell anymore)

      Your Sage, your Voice of Wisdom, your I-Know-The-Future-and-Ride-It, is at least to some of us an actual herald of disaster. Which I wouldn’t mind much actually, given that Valve doesn’t rule the world and thankfully other studios have been a lot more prolific in awarding us with more and greater games than Valve has been doing since 2007. Fact is this company basically just doesn’t factor in my life. And like mine, of many others. What I do mind a little, what annoys me, is seeing this man (this icon of the industry) being constantly so evasive, so empty in his comments and people actually still holding his inconsequential PR has gospel and his persona as high as they can, when in fact this company has been so poor in delivering for the past years.

    • The Hammer says:

      Mario,

      Your cute bit of roleplay asides (I’m sure it’ll raise many laughs), you do not appear to have a grip on the facts. I’m not sure how Left 4 Dead could be constituted as being in the same vein as Team Fortress 2 – except, perhaps, in that they are both multi-player games. Other than that (and good job on spinning free downloadable content as being a bad thing! Sheesh!), they’re vastly different games catering to two different styles of play. One is for four-players or, if they’re feeling adventurous, more than four, in the vs mode. The other is a retro-modern game, the peak of a genre that, if Team Fortress 2 wasn’t around, wouldn’t exist any more. It has cornered the market and dominated it. Yes, the hats and whatever, blight on Valve’s name, etc etc, but Left 4 Dead is certainly not the cash cow you make it out to be. Apart from the Microsoft-enforced sale over on the Xbox Live Marketplace, I don’t think Left 4 Dead has a single piece of paid-for downloadable content?

      Even ignoring your unfortunate comparison between two dissimilar games, this notion that everything else is in the same vain as those core multiplayer offerings is proved to be absolutely false by, er, that game released just last month. A game that has hade the Internet aflutter with joy. Whether or not you believe that reviewers are sheep-drones, the sheer outpouring of appreciation from those outside the spectre of games journalism really shows that Valve have hit the money – they’ve still got it.

      The fact is, Valve doesn’t even have to bring any games out at any particular point to be influential. And when they do, that game is genre-rocking. Portal 2, for example: how many other developers bring out eight-hour games based on puzzles, and packed full of Pixar-grade surprises and delight?

      But, as you’ve already said, Valve don’t factor into your life, which is presumably why you feel you have the ability to do “satire” based around them (a note about that: Satire is meant to have a grain of truth to it. As far as I can tell, yours doesn’t). I’m still confused, though, as to why you think Newell is a herald of disaster. His own company is not a disaster at all, if you look at their critical and financial success. Get a slice of reality, eh?

    • Kaira- says:

      @ The Hammer
      I think you exaggarate when you say “The other is a retro-modern game, the peak of a genre that, if Team Fortress 2 wasn’t around, wouldn’t exist any more”. The death of adventure games has been greatly exaggarated since forever, and look how strong they are going. No doubt there would be something to “fill the void” of TF2, so to say.

    • The Hammer says:

      Hey Kaira,

      Maybe it’s a bold claim, but I do feel that it’s truthful. Can you name any other stringent class-based multiplayer shooters around? And I don’t mean yer Battlefields and whatnot. I mean when the roles people play are defined and pigeon-holed, and the order of the day is Capture The Flag.

      I can only really name Fortress Forever, which is a mod for Half-Life 2, and not a commercial product.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I don’t see where I actually compared L4D with Team Fortress 2, other than by acknowledging the company isn’t much interested in single-player games. And you may want to make Portal 2 count as something. But It still won’t hide the fact the game has a lower production value than any modern full length single-player experience. The hubbub around the game only serves the masses desire for hype.

      Your attitude towards Valve is obvious. So is mine. So let’s keep it at that.

    • The Hammer says:

      “It still won’t hide the fact the game has a lower production value than any modern full length single-player experience”

      Any?

      Do you have to argue in absolutes I presume you know yourself are way off the mark?

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      “Many”. But I’m sure you thought that’s what I probably wanted to say, but still felt like it would somehow make you more argumentative, if you ignored your gut feeling instead of giving me the benefit of the doubt.

      I’d rather see in you someone I could argue with. Can you be that person?

    • The Hammer says:

      Well, it didn’t look like a typo to me. The reason I pointed it out was precisely because I don’t think it’s worth arguing if we’re going to be deploying gross exaggerations and petulant absolutes.

      I’d just like you to explain just how Portal 2 – a game which utilises the voiceacting ability of JK Simmons and Stephen Merchant, as well as the latest in Source tech, as well as a fully-featured co-op experience – has lower production values than its single-player contemporaries.

      So let’s start by asking: what contemporaries would those be? Crysis 2? Bulletstorm? Last year’s Medal of Honor?

      And the other question would be: yeah, how come you come to the conclusion that Portal 2 was lower than ‘many’ of them.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      No. Not a typo. I didn’t say it was a typo. It was a slip. A mistake I didn’t intend to. Possibly caused by thinking ahead of what I’m typing. Who knows?

      As for your comparisons… Let’s see, I’m pretty sure a game like Portal 2 was cheaper and easier to make then:

      - Bioshock (1 & 2)
      - Far Cry 2 (possibly even 1, despite its age)

      To name two games.

      Now, Do I have data on this? ‘fcourse not! It seems sensible though that a game adopting an existing engine and sporting a short gaming experience, while being mostly described as a puzzle game just doesn’t require the financial involvement of a full length, fully featured FPS.

      Does it say anything about the quality of the game? No. Neither I ever said it did. However the game has been painted in my opinion much higher than it deserved. I bought it and I enjoyed it actually. But nowhere near the level of what I hear being said about it.

  24. Leelad says:

    I think what they’re saying is that they will make more money on the consoles if it allows those types to painfully shoot each other really slowly.

  25. Josh Brandt says:

    “Which sounds like Half-Life 3 is going to ship with something a little more potent than a deathmatch mode. What do you think, readers?”

    I think that Half-Life 3 has to actually SHIP. Or be announced. Even assuming you meant Episode 3, and speaking of that, where is it? I do like that Valve has bothered to release any games at all in the past couple of years, but still. I think they may have been distracted.

  26. zaphod42 says:

    What do you think, readers?

    I think that all games, or at least a ton more, should have co-op. Co-op is TONS of fun, allows people to play together who are at vastly different skill levels (if we play competitive multiplayer, one person always wins, one person always loses; thats no fun. But if you work together, you both get to do something).

    Single player games are great, immersive, story-drive experiences. But when you beat them, thats usually it. Why not let me then run back through the game with a buddy? MASSIVELY extends the amount of value and playtime I would get out of it.

    • Text_Fish says:

      I think it depends on the game Zaphod42. Co-op can be a great thing if it’s implemented well, but if developers just start shoehorning it in to every game in order to get a few more punters interested (which they’re bound to do considering the success of games like Portal 2 and L4D) then it won’t be well implemented and the rest of the game may even suffer as well. Personally I’d prefer to see devs who are genuinely passionate about providing a great co-op experience bringing us exactly that, and any of them who have no creative incentive should just stick to whatever else they do best.

  27. YourMessageHere says:

    In case anyone’s not noticed, social media just gets in the way of immersive entertainment – think of the last time you were at the cinema and some tool started texting. Did you find this a revolutionary and innovative way of engaging with the film and possibly an evolution of narrative techniques? Or did you want to hit them with a taser so you could just enjoy the film you paid to see?

    Sure, integrate all this stuff if you want, just make it possible to turn the stupid things off. I’d far rather be amazed by a single-player game that I played by myself, and thus induced to talk about it with people afterwards, than have my game immersion completely screwed over by the game telling me about what my friends (and their friends, and their friends, and some other people who are famous) are doing and what they think.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      Sure, but.

      I have friends who run a streaming movie night. Every couple weeks we pile into a chatroom and stream films at each other, chattering away in the text box. It’s not innovative, but it is fun.

      It’s about context, I think. In a movie theater, yes, I would beat these people to death with their own torso. At the proper time and in the proper context, it’s a great time.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Yes.

      For some games it’s fine but… would Ravenholt really be as good, as scary, as oppressive if halfway through you got messages from a friend.

      Sometimes I want to play a game and still be socially accessible. Sometimes I want to go down the rabbit hole and not speak to anyone all day.

      We’ve come a long way from complaining that achievement pop-ups break immersion…

  28. somedude says:

    I can certainly se the wisdom of adding in co-op from a business standpoint – co-op drives people to get their friends to also buy games at launch so that they can play alongside them. However, for a frugal gamer or a gamer on a budget, co-op is a much less valuable proposition.

    Take Portal 2′s co-op, which, as I understand it, is co-op through a linear series of levels. Most of my friends that I would play co-op with bought the game at launch, and have already played/are already playing through it. Since my gaming budget is currently depleted, I’m giving it a pass for now. Thing is, by the time I can actually get the game, no one I know will want to play it, having already played the those levels to exhaustion. Even if I got it a month or so down the line, while it was still at retail price, a segment of the game would be worthless for me as I would have no one interested in still playing it.

    So, for anyone who doesn’t/can’t buy a game on launch day, at full price, this heavy multiplayer focus can be detrimental, especially in a co-op situation with limited replayability. Obviously, the calculus is different for a competitive multiplayer game, which can maintain communities for many years after release, especially something like TF2 with its near-constant evolution. However, when I see a game where the single-player element is eclipsed by co-op, I’m going to have to consider how fast that co-op portion will become irrelevant, and heavily discount the value of the game to me accordingly.

    • Jad says:

      Thoroughly agree with you. Sometime ago I went through MW2′s campaign and played some of the multiplayer. However the co-op requirement of the “Special Ops” portion of the game meant that there was game content that I would never ever be able to play, as I didn’t have any friends who played the game anymore and I don’t like playing co-op with strangers.

      Deathmatch with random people years after a game’s release is fine, and single-player can be played at anytime, but SP-style co-op is essentially worthless to anybody who doesn’t have a wide pool of friends with similar gaming interests and time commitments.

  29. Dorako says:

    As long as they don’t blow money integrating Facebook or some crap, I don’t really care.

  30. Basilicus says:

    You mean folks all blew their f*cking tops based on a vaguely phrased, one-sentence aside, even without having any information that supported their newfound batsh*t crazy conspiracy theories about Valve? On the Internet?

    Impossible.

  31. malkav11 says:

    While this is obviously less of a concern with Valve, which already shackles their games inextricably to Steam, one reason to be concerned about this sort of thing is that the more “integrated” a game is, the easier it is to justify forcing the singleplayer content into a relationship with a server that almost certainly will not last as long as the game itself.

    • Vinraith says:

      Yup, where goes Valve so goes the rest of the industry. A shift away from pure SP games creates all the excuse in the world for online-all-the-time DRM, just look at Darkspore.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Actually I’m not that confident about Valve ability to dictate trends in the gaming industry. Perhaps through the Valve Store at the level of marketing and economics. But not at the game design level. It’s been plenty of years of tremendous success for this company (sometimes arguably), but the industry still kept it’s own rhythm, largely independent of Valve musings.

      I think Valve’s greatest contribution (contributions because they were mimicked or got replicated), besides Steam (which I personally don’t care about, but certainly can’t avoid praising for the success) was indeed Half-Life and the introduction of storytelling in FPS. Their engine also. Can’t forget about Source. But this storytelling element wasn’t actually one swopping surprise. We had been asking for something on this vein for quite some time already. Valve simply managed to deliver, as the upstart company they were at the time not tied to the same ideals of today. Less planning and more risk. That’s what made them. Hearing Gabe Newell speak these days just isn’t like it used to be. And it is quite the disappointment.

      Anyways, I digress. This relationship with a server bothers me, no doubt. But I learned to stop resisting DRM. Instead what bothers me is getting the feeling that my Single-Player experience will be altered or somehow conditioned by my willingness to sport or not an online social agenda. Now, if Valve successfully implements this model and you are right and the industry follows suit, then I think that will spell disaster to any single-player fanboy like myself and will greatly diminish our purchasing options. Being the case SP is clearly becoming and afterthought in the industry already, I’m genuinely worried…

    • malkav11 says:

      Half-Life certainly didn’t introduce storytelling in the FPS. It may have introduced one or two specific -methods- of telling a story in them, but that would be all.

  32. Armante says:

    Dear Valve,

    Please let me play HL2:EP3 and HL3 (whenever they may arrive) WITHOUT having to play with friends, or in co-op locally or over the internets.

    I would like a game that I can sit and play, all by myself, and get lost in the story, the puzzles, the gun-play. Let me marvel at the scenery you have created, let me be transported into another place. I don’t mind having AI’s along for the ride from time to time. Alyx and Dog both had their moments, along with Barney et al. But please recapture some of the magic that was HL1, where I had to sneak through dangerous environments, fighting/avoiding the bad guys.

    Portal2 had it about balanced, with having Wheatley along for the ride etc, but also giving us time out and be by ourselves.

    Thank you very much.

  33. drewski says:

    I just wish they’d hurry up and release it. I don’t care what’s in it. Finish it already.

  34. gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

    As long as there’s a full single player that gives the whole story without cutting out big content, I’ll be OK with it. I don’t want to feel left out like I did with Half Life: Decay (even when ported to PC, it’s still co-op only). Another example that really bums me out is, well, I’m a huge Zelda fan but I can’t play Four Swords. Not the Gamecube Four Swords Adventures, but the GBA Four Swords.

  35. Ryn Taylor says:

    But I don’t have any friends.

  36. TheLastBaron says:

    “Which sounds like Half-Life 3 is going to ship with something a little more potent than a deathmatch mode. What do you think, readers?”

    Half-Life 3 won’t ship. I’ve come to accept it.

  37. blainestereo says:

    Which sounds like Half-Life 3 is going to ship with something a little more potent than a deathmatch mode. What do you think, readers?

    There will never be a Half-Life 3.

    Think about it.

    Half-Life 2
    Team Fortress 2
    Left4Dead 2
    Portal 2
    DOTA2

    As good as Valve are, they can’t seem to handle the number three.

    If anything, we should be looking forward to Alien Swarm 2.

    • Araxiel says:

      That also means no Half Life 2: Episode Three.
      Probably the next game will be either Half Life 2: Episode Four or directly Half Life 4.

  38. Araxiel says:

    I demand a store full of hats for Gordon Freeman!

  39. Lucifalle says:

    “…That’s the thing that we’re trying to say, is that, single player is great but we also have to recognize that you have friends, and we wanna have that connected as well. So, it’s not about giving up on single player at all, it’s like saying, we actually think that there’s a bunch of features and capabilities that we need to add into our single player games to recognize the socially connected gamer.”

    … But what if I don’t have any friends (to play online with)? :(

  40. Gvaz says:

    Even if I had friends (which I do) why do you assume I want to play with them? (I want to play with myself)