One of the most challenging aspects of video-games culture for a newcomer, especially for a busy parent, is trying to learn and understand the many, many acronyms and specialised terms. GameHub HQ entries are jargon-free, so you can get the information you need as easily and painlessly as possible, but there are still some words worth knowing. Every Monday, we break down one Word Worth Knowing from the world of gaming.
What is Half Life 3, what do you need to know and why do you need to care?
What It Is: Half Life 3 = A controversy you, as a parent, need to know about.
What It Means: The video-game industry, like any relatively young entertainment industry sector, absolutely thrives on scandals, intrigue and upset. But few industry dramas have run on quite so long, and with so much sustained interest, as the on-going saga of Half Life 3. Get yourself a cup of tea and a biscuit, this is going to be a bit of a long one, but definitely a Word(s) Worth Knowing.
Why You Care: Half Life was released by the Valve Corporation in 1998. The game was a smash hit, and praised by critics and players alike as a new benchmark in game design, story and visual effects. It won over fifty “Game of The Year” awards and is considered by most players to be in the Top Ten best games of all time.
In 2004, a sequel was released, Half Life 2. Half Life 2 was considered as innovative or more so than the original Half Life game, and once again introduced many stylistic and technical innovations that would go on to become standardised industry practice. The game featured a believable and human female side-kick character, Alyx Vance, a mysterious antagonist known popularly as G-Man and physics-bending weapons such as the Gravity Gun which allowed the player to manipulate objects in the environment to build traps, bridges and barricades using found objects. Half Life 2 received critical acclaim for its physics simulation through use of a modified version of the Havok simulation engine, it’s animations, sound and graphics, story and narrative design, and the quality of enemy and friendly character’s independent decision making processes – their AI. The game won Valve a further 39 “Game of the Year” awards for their trophy cabinet. Spike Video Game Awards christened the title “Game Of The Decade” and Valve’s reputation as a standard-setter reached new levels.
Then, a new development. Episodic gaming had a brief moment in the sun and it became fashionable to release games in chapters, with players paying per level rather than for a completed bundle of levels as a whole game. Half Life 2 Episode One was released. Then, after a year’s wait, Half Life 2 Episode Two. The episode ended with the gruesome death of a much loved character, and a number of loose ends and cliff-hangers all sitting unresolved. Then…silence. Fans had been waiting since 2007 for the missing third episode. Then the news came out that there was not going to be a Half Life 2 Episode 3. The next instalment of the Half Life series would be a full game. Half Life 3 was now the phrase on everyone’s lips.
After Half-Life 2, a significant change was made to the timelines which Valve put on projects. The company had introduced an episodic model – one which was promised would shorten development cycles and give staff more room to breathe. Two episodes later, that model has been completely replaced, Newell says.
Years went by. Valve have a company policy of not being terribly forthcoming on work-in-progress projects, which tends to intrigue and exasperate fans in equal measure. After a few years, people got angry by the continued silence. Now, most are resigned to waiting for news. Some players speculate that Half Life 3 will be released as a VR game. Others that it will be given away for free as a surprise gift in conjunction with a major event. Some think the game is cancelled. Others wonder if the new game will be a switch in genres, from the tight, linear story driven format of previous games to a much more expansive (and time-consuming to create) free-roaming open world. Rumours abound. Answers are hard to come by.
It became a bit of a running joke in the industry, almost of Half-Life 3 proportions.
And so still, the internet waits with baited breath for the day the words Half Life 3 Confirmed appear in the news-feeds and inboxes of gamers around the world. And on that day, its fair to say, whether your children are 7, 13, 17 or 32, it will be very, very difficult to get them to calm down and go to bed before midnight!
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