Train2Game News Half-Life 2 Epistle 3

The Project Borealis Team – the fan project developing Half-Life 2: Epistle 3, based on the Epistle 3 script published by Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw – have released their fourth development update.

The update features the announcement of their upcoming tech demo, a reimagining of fan-favourite Ravenholm from Half-Life 2, alongside new character concept art.

A video has been published detailing the tech demo, including footage of the demo’s location:

The tech demo will be a chance for Half-Life fans to provide feedback on the team’s progress. The team says that “Ravenholm provides an obvious choice for a demonstration of our skills, taking a fan-favourite location in Half-Life 2 and re-imagining it in Unreal Engine 4, fourteen years later.”

Concept art also shown in the update features new arctic designs for the Headcrab Zombie enemy type, as well as an exploration of the allied Rebel NPCs, and a more detailed environment piece around the idea of a crash site from near the start of the game.

A number of team openings have also been made available in light of the update; details and forms for these positions can be found at

Project Manager Michael Dunaway commented, “Completing this tech demo has been one of our largest endeavours as a team since starting on this journey nearly a year ago. This upcoming demo lays out the foundation for everything that represents our efforts in bringing the nuanced HL2 experience into Unreal Engine 4. We’re excited to see fans’ reactions to our work and will continue refining the gameplay experience based on the feedback we receive.”

Find out more about the game and follow its progress on the official website at
Get involved in discussions about the game by joining our Subreddit ( or Discord (
Make sure to also follow the team on Twitter at for future updates.

Train2Game News Gabe Newell on Source Engine 2

Valve's Gabe NewellGabe Newell has commented on the progress of Source Engine 2 during a recent Reddit AMA, saying the company is building the tools with user-generated content in mind.

Newell fielded questions from the general public today regarding the future of Valve, his favourite games and what the company has in store for Source Engine 2.

Answering to the latter, Newell said the industry’s move towards user-generated content has influenced the development process.

“The biggest improvements will be in increasing productivity of content creation,” he wrote.

“That focus is driven by the importance we see UGC having going forward. A professional developer at Valve will put up with a lot of pain that won’t work if users themselves have to create content.”

While Newell didn’t comment on Half-Life 3, he did address Valve’s attitude towards developing new IP, indicating that core game systems take precedence over everything.

“An IP is really a tool for a development team more than anything else,” he said. “The key is to have clarity around what is uniquely of value in what you are trying to do and not waste your effort on things that don’t directly contribute to that.”

On the topic of e-sports, their popularity on PC and micro-transaction funding models, Newell said he wants to facillitate an easier connection between consumers and content creators.

“We still think we have a long way to go to get to the point where all of the different people that are contributing value to competitive play get everything out of it that they should,” he wrote. “[It] feels like we are making pretty good progress though.

“Giving the consumers of content a direct relationship with the creators of content is something we think about a lot. That is what drove our thinking about how the community could be more involved in the tournaments that mattered to them.”

Steam, the PC platform Valve founded and operate, has over 65 million users, the company announced earlier this year.

A line of thirteen different Steam Machines, all boasting different hardware specs, was unveiled at CES 2014.

Newell also revealed during the AMA that his most played game is DOTA 2, while his favourite non-Valve game of all time is Mario 64.

Source: CVG

Train2Game News: J.J Abrams and Gabe Newell could collaborate

Valve logoValve CEO, Gabe Newell and top film director, J.J Abrams hit the stage at the DICE summit in Las Vegas and announced they had been talking about working together.

After a back-and-forth about player agency and storytelling, Newell revealed that the duo had been “recapitulating a series of conversations going on,” and that they’re now ready to “do more than talk”: Newell suggested “either a Portal movie or a Half-Life movie,” and Abrams said he’d like to make a game with Valve.

Valve are one of the top games developers with games such as Half Life and Portal under their belts which have incredible game play mechanics that make them fan favourites.

J.J Abrams on the other hand is one of the best directors at the moment, responsible for the reboot of the Star Trek films and is taking the helm on the new Star Wars films. Abrams has also worked on TV Series such as Lost and Fringe.

The two men working together could bring forth incredible games with the mechanics of Valve and storytelling of Abrams. In addition, in my opinion, there would be no man better to direct a Portal or Half Life movie than Mr Abrams.

In 2010, Newell said that if Valve were to make a Half-Life movie, it wouldn’t hand over control to any Hollywood studio, saying:

“There was a whole bunch of meetings with people from Hollywood. Directors down there wanted to make a Half-Life movie and stuff, so they’d bring in a writer or some talent agency would bring in writers, and they would pitch us on their story. And their stories were just so bad. I mean, brutally, the worst. Not understanding what made the game a good game, or what made the property an interesting thing for people to be a fan of.

“That’s when we started saying ‘Wow, the best thing we could ever do is to just not do this as a movie, or we’d have to make it ourselves.’”

There are no details on Newell and Abrams’ project—be it game, film, or both—outside of the tease that they’re talking. They are talking and I am sure that can only mean good things.

Train2Game News: Steam Greenlights concepts

Valve has introduced a new area to Greenlight where developers can upload concepts and get feedback from the public.

Concepts are free to post for feedback but won’t be distributed. The idea is to get opinions from the community. Examples of concepts already uploaded are Portal expansion Afterword, Elevator Engineer, Savegame Explorer, first/third-person logic shooter B.R.I.S.k, Vertex Wars and more.

This is a good place to see how a game idea would do out on the market which can be invaluable information. It can stop you working on a part of a game that might not be so popular with the paying public, giving you more time to concentrate on another part that is popular.

In addition Steam now allows software to be submitted to Greenlight. It follows the same rules as games do on Greenlight. That is, there’s a submission fee ($100) and the community votes whether they want to see the app/software released on Steam.

Steam Greenlight has been generally updated to show friends’ favourites and recent news on the home page, plus some other minor extras.

To date, thirty games have been ‘greenlit’ by Steam including the Half-Life mod Black Mesa and Project Zomboid. The only game to have been released from the service so far is McPixel.

Train2Game News: Mid-week Round up of game news

This will be a mid-week round up of all the biggest news in the gaming industry. Depending on the reaction it gets this may become a weekly post.

Gearbox’s Borderlands 2 comes out next week and in the lead up to that they have released the skill trees for the different classes available in the game. This is a good chance to see how the characters are going to play out through the game.

Valve has released a list of the first ten games being released through Steams Greenlight initiative. Some of the games on the list are Black Mesa the Half-Life mod and Project Zomboid. A full list of the Greenlight approved games can be found here.

The Wii U is having its release date and recommended retail price announced tomorrow. At 8am Nintendo will announce in a special webcast on the official Nintendo Direct Page. The release date is rumoured for UK release date early December with a possible price of £190.

Double Fine studios have accidentally released there first mobile title ahead of schedule. Thanks to some quick thinking from lead designer Kee Chi and the team behind the studios first mobile exclusive, the release turned into an unplanned beta.

Sony is ready to display a new virtual reality headset at the Tokyo Game Show. This follows the news of the Occulus Rift kickstarter and Valves augmented reality headset plans being released. The Sony headset will have a full 360 degree experience with head tracking and a live camera.

The last and possibly biggest bit of news is that this Friday the Train2Game world record attempt sponsored by Microsoft begins. The 48 hour event will see students creating games in the time they have using Windows 8. It is always fun and is always a great learning experience.

Train2Game News: Unknown Worlds to host Natural Selection 2 developer session at Rezzed

Unknown Worlds, the creators of popular Half-Life mod Natural Selection are the latest studio to be added to the developer session line up at Rezzed, the PC and indie gaming show which takes place in Brighton next month.

Natural Selection is a multiplayer mode which combined real time strategy with first person shooting, giving one player the role of Commander as they directed the team and constructed buildings from a top-down 2D viewpoint.  Natural Selection 2 is a standalone sequel scheduled for release later this year.

Unknown Worlds’ Hugh Jeremy will host the Natural Selection 2 developer session on Friday 6th July at 5pm, in which he’ll take audience questions and discuss the game. It could be a great opportunity for Train2Game students to find out more about the benefits of modding.

“Natural Selection 2 is now only months from release. Rezzed is about to get up close and personal to some xenomorph evolution,” said Jeremy

Tickets for Rezzed are available on the official website, and it’s looking to be an interesting event for Train2Game students to attend, with a variety of developer sessions including those from Introversion SoftwareThe Creative AssemblySplash Damage CEO Paul Wedgwood  and Gearbox Software’s Randy Pitchford.

We’ll be sure to keep you up to date with the latest news as the show approaches.

What would you ask Unknown Worlds about Natural Selection and modding?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: ‘Learn by making mistakes’ says Black Mesa mod project lead

Train2Game Blog readers are likely to have seen one of our posts about the benefits of modding, but the benefit of building your own games or levels isn’t just that it’s good for your portfolio, you’ll also learn a lot while doing it.

That’s what happened for the guys behind Black Mesa, the much anticipated but rather delayed mod that’s bringing the original Half-Life into the source engine.  Project Lead Carlos Montero told Rock, Paper, Shotgun that, if anything, there are delays because the team are learning how to build a game, often by making then fixing mistakes.

“This hasn’t been about polish for polish’s sake; it’s been about learning all there is to know about how to make great games, and using it to make a great game. There aren’t any shortcuts there. We just had to learn by doing, by making mistakes, by screwing things up and starting them over again.”  said Montero.

“Sometimes along the way we have learned things that fundamentally changed our way of thinking, and sometimes we have gone back and fundamentally changed parts of the game to reflect that.”

The Black Mesa project lead added that, the team are very eager to release the game, but only when they’re totally happy that it’s good enough.

“So no, I don’t think it is tempting to over-polish at all. We are all eager to get the game out. We are dying to get this game out and show everyone what we’ve been working on, but we aren’t so eager that we would sacrifice our values and what we believe will make this game great. We aren’t going to put out something that isn’t good enough for us.” Montero said.

Read the full, fascinating, interview over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

In an interview with The Train2Game Blog, Valve’s own Chet Faliszek told us modding s a great way for aspiring game developers to  practice and show off their skills.

There’s more modding news on The Train2Game Blog, while the latest from Valve is here.

What are your thoughts on the comments from the Black Mesa project lead? Have you found modding to be a great learning experience? And are you looking forward to the mod eventually being released?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: Half-Life mod Dear Esther gets trailer ahead of full release

Train2Game students should be interested in upcoming indie title Dear Esther for two reasons. First of all, it throws the rulebook for traditional game design out the window, and secondly it started life as a mod.

In terms of game design, Dear Esther is a first person ghost story in which you wander an island uncovering the reasons why you’re there and what’s going on as you explore the environment.  There are no guns, no weapons; Dear Esther is all about discovering the narrative, so it might prove to be an interesting experience for Train2Game students who  play it.

While Dear Esther is getting a full release, as mentioned above it started life as a mod built using Half Life-2’s Source engine and originally released in 2008 by Dan Pinchbeck, a researcher based at the University of Portsmouth. However, by 2010 the mod had been given support by Valve for a full, independent release, with a team of six people behind it.

Dear Esther is set for release on 14th February and Train2Game students can watch the trailer below.

You can find out more about Dear Esther on the game’s official website.

Dear Esther isn’t the first mod to get an official release. Heck, it isn’t even the first Valve mod to be officially released with huge titles such as Counter-Strike and Team Fortress starting life as mods.

And in an interview with The Train2Game Blog, Valve’s Chet Faliszek said modding is a great way to break into the games industry.

“It’s a really good way for someone to get noticed because it shows that you’re able” he said.

“Normally modders have to work as a team and that’s important, and they also have to be able to finish something and that’s really important. So those two things together are a really good way to demonstrate that you’re ready to work in the industry.” Faliszek added.

For all the latest news about modding, and how it can be a great benefit to you, keep reading The Train2Game Blog.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Dear Esther? What does it say about the potential of modding?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Valve on why Portal 2 protagonist Chell is silent

As many Train2Game students will be aware, dialogue can be a very important factor in the success of a game, but a game doesn’t need a character that says anything at all in order to be successful.

Just look at Portal 2 for example, which as the Train2Game blog reported, held No.1 in the UK charts for two weeks.  Valve writer Robert Wolpaw spoke about why protagonist Chell  is silent during a talk at NYU’s Game Centre, and revealed that it’s because she “could be anyone”

“It could be you. There’s the silent protagonist, which I don’t know is specifically a Valve thing, but it’s a thing” he said “It’s probably a little bit tougher in Half-Life, because it’s slightly more realistic and there’s conversations that are happening and you kind of have to write around why Gordon isn’t saying anything.

“I don’t think people are super invested in the character of Chell…obviously because we haven’t given her much character. But they’re invested in the relationship they have as the player. We always assumed she could talk, she just chooses not to, what with robots all being dicks, why give them the satisfaction?”

Wolpaw also discussed how Chell is used to emphasise the comedy in Portal 2.

“There’s this thing with comedy…there’s sort of two different patterns,” he said “One is, you’re the straight man in a world gone mad, and the other one is you’re a crazy person in a straight world. Portal is definitely the world gone mad straight man, and the straight man is you. Because you have to write in the margins in a game, time is at a premium, so the fact that there’s already this established thing where you have a silent protagonist, that saves us a lot of time.

“You may want to know Chell’s backstory, you may want to hear her say things, but I guarantee, if she had to say her straight man lines at the expense of half of the other dialog, it would suck.” he concluded.

As reported by the Train2Game blog, Valve claim that Portal 2 is their best single player game.

Of course, many Train2Game students will also be familiar with Valve’s other prominent silent protagonist – Gordon Freeman of the Half-Life series.

So Train2Game, why do you think Valve have had so much success with silent protagonists? Would you consider putting one in your games? Or do you believe the industry is moving towards more dialogue in games?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: MTV via VG247]