I got permission from /u/baconlovr for the opportunity to do this. I just want to say thank you, because I know attempts at this have been done more than enough times, and the status of the fanbase and the monolithic status of Half-Life 3 can get really tiresome. Let's give a round of applause to him for the moderation of this community. Also he has a really cool name and one that I as well, owe a lifestyle too.
There have been around 8 or 9 cases of information on this being 'leaked' out, but I think all attempts have been put to a heavy stop every single time.
I'd like to start this off by answering something everyone reading this has in their minds:
Half-Life 2 Episode 3 has been cancelled. The project has turned into a full fledged title confirmed to be Half-Life 3. Half-Life 3 is the official title and has turned very well into a standalone game. Well sortof. It's complicated.
Who am I and how can you trust me?
I can't say anything about any of that. But you'll start to realize this isn't false information once I get into detail, so put down the pitchforks. Or raise them high, just don't poke each others eyes out.
Why am I doing this?
I'm excited, simple as that. Everyone who has put a hand in this game is extremely excited. There has also been a recent event where doing this has become a much easier thing to do than ever before in the past, and it's about time to get this information out.
When is Valve releasing Half-Life 3?
I'm not entirely sure when Valve is ready to unveil anything relating to Half-Life 3 or if they are even going to in a traditional manner (from what I know there is 0 marketing being worked on), but the game is nearing completion. Well, sortof. It's complicated.
The structure isn't like Call of Duty where its linear and single paced. It isn't an open world rpg like Fallout or anything. It's.........different.
There are a few areas from the world I know about. There is a jungle type of environment, a desert kind of environment, and some urban environments and an area of rolling hills. There has been development and experimentation if you will with world generating dating back to at least 2008, but it's been put on the side and isn't the focus for Half-Life 3.
It's still being worked on but there are a lot of reasons for why random world generation isn't being used for this title. Nobody in the office is having much satisfaction with it and it can't replicate giving an environment with a heart and soul much like a hand crafted one made by humans (what a weird thing to say right?). But it's still being worked on.
Staff have discovered why a title like Minecraft is flawed in its presentation. The locations and different climates, the dungeons, they're all key and essential parts to fabricating a world for players but they're all a giant mess and most of it you just never see or appreciate. Moments that leave you in awe such as staring at a large mountain in the distance as you leave a dark cavernous area for the first time, just can't get that feeling replicated no matter how much effort is being put in, and it's too hard of a gamble especially with this game in particular.
The game is fabricated to be VERY reactive to player choice and decision making. There are no forced cutscenes that break the pace of the game and put you to a stop. Instead you can still freely do as you please and fully interact with everything that goes on story wise and cinematically. Nothing really feels like a cinematic, it more so just feels like stuff that happens to be occurring with what you're doing. For example, a character is sitting on a chair talking to you and if you start walking they will get up and respond to you.
Extensive research has been done on the problems with modern games and open world games in general. The biggest problems that have been addressed are repetitive dialogue and singular scripted events. These are things that are finite in place but can be vastly expanded on with current day technology.
For example. Grand Theft Auto IV and V and Red Dead Redemption, they all feature dialogue spoken by npc's in reaction to you or others in their environment. A man could say to you,
"Eat a dick clown!"
That same man also says, "What are you smokin'?"
But these single phrases are among a very limited range that when blended with other npc's kind of blends in. But if you invest many hours into the game you'll start hearing sentences you've heard a hundred times or more by that point and it will really start to negatively impact immersion and the feeling the player gets from enjoying a game. It's like how the "arrow in the knee" story from Skyrim became among infamy as a joke.
So with Source 2, there is blended dialogue. What this means is that lines are recorded and single words are recorded. The GTA npc can not only say the two lines above, but also say: "What are you smokin' clown?" Or "What are you a clown?" And maybe afterwards they would mutter something under their breath like "Eat a dick already."
Not only this, but the pitch for any npc can be altered and changed depending on their mood and general behaviors and interactions with them. Irritate an npc and you will hear the tone sound more annoyed and strenuous.
This is all dynamic and done with Source 2 on the fly. You will never hear the exact same sentence ever again. Just like in real life, doing an exact replicate of something somebody said is impossible, because of factors such as tone and differing vocabulary and variables at play that trigger these things to occur. This is why Valve has been working very closely with many experimental & young filmmakers, and acting instructors & theater talents from some of the most prestigious institutions in the world, to receive as much input and criticism towards this as they can possibly get. I can't include any names unfortunately.
Physics puzzles are gone and are instead more of an optional sort of thing, but are generated for you based on your decisions.
You could have recently gotten a pistol and are in a jungle. The world will generate puzzles for you to choose to interact with, but they are not in-your-face and at times are a lot more subtle than one would think but once a player is used to the environment in the game thinking logically to find the puzzle is half of the puzzle itself.
Okay that was a mouthful so I'll explain:
You just got that pistol and are in the jungle, you walk through and stumble upon a massive gap between you and a ledge. There is a tree across from you, and if you shoot something on it, it will give you a path to take across. If you take alternate routes they may be more challenging than the one taken via the random puzzle given to you. They more or less serve to teach you how to use your weapons after acquiring them, thus the reaction of the environment and your choices. Things are presented to you for the weapons you choose to use. Everyone's experience will be different and unique. And it's randomly generated for you.
Events that occur in the game's world and story driven events have a multitude of variables. Everything has variables. There are largescale events and smallscale. How these are dissected is completely on the fly and almost completely randomized.
For example, you're walking across a hill and the largescale event is that you see Alex in a helicopter being kidnapped. The smallscale events are anything if and before or even during. Okay so you could walk towards that hill and there are a few Combine soldiers that you fight. Then you see the heli with Alex. Or, you see the heli first with Alex, then an army of Combine rolls out with tanks and a full infantry coming after you.
This in turn keeps you on your toes, and keeps the game fresh, near impossible to get old. It also helps improve when people die repeatedly making the same mistake over and over again, because they will always be presented with an almost different scenario. Plus different dialogue from everyone, every single time.
This doesn't just apply to story driven aspects it applies to everything. And the largescale events can differ themselves. The helicopter may fly in a different direction, it may or may not fire at you, it may or may not drop soldiers out to attack you, etc. this was inspired a lot by the random events of open world games, where things happen to the player but only a finite amount can occur. The dragons that attack in Skyrim will always attack in the same manner and the only random smallscale events that can occur are interactions with wildlife or fellow npc's, but even then they're in a totally different ballpark. And the same case can be said for all in this example from Red Dead Redemption, when eventually getting your horse stolen by the same guy gets old and breaks immersion. This remedies that.
Extensive research has been made to fuel Source 2 and Half-Life 3. As time progressed it gave more time to look at modern games and find what they do that we can improve and change. So it has really worked out, because we can look and see and observe, and find creative new ways to improve these things.
The biggest titles in particular that have been researched are the main Rockstar titles and the Euphoria physics engine, and open world games in general. MMO's have been researched as well, but that in particular is an umbrella canopy for a lot of things that are actively being worked on and improved at Valve as well. I hope that makes sense.
The music Kelly's been recording and working on is being made to be a dynamic score, or at least most of it is from what I know. What this means is that player interactions, choices, and movements will effect the music they hear. However this is also put in the control of the AI. So pedestrians and survivors and enemies can trigger certain music to be heard and blend together to create a really unique soundtrack, that will also never get old or tiring or repetitive.
I put this in bold because THIS is how Half-Life 3 and Source 2 are going to change games, forever.
Source 2 is really to thank for all of this. And with that in mind comes the physics and destructibility. Chunks of buildings can be torn out, and near everything has some form of producing particles and "breakdown" to it, even people.
Picture a car being picked up and then thrown into the corner of a brick building. The car actually goes inside of the building, with collision shaping the metal of the car, shattering the glass and creating "spider webs".
The billboard topples over onto the ground, then the building starts to crumble and demolish. As this occurs, bricks topple onto themselves and outward onto the streets, glass is crushed, and cement is broken into chunks. All of this randomized and the building being fully enterable and interactive from the start by the way.
And after the demolition, the AI can interact with this. They might take the bricks and use them as weapons amongst themselves. They can also take refuge inside of the broken down building. There could be a large room type area in the rubble blocked by steel beams. Days later you come back, you could see that instead of steel beams there is now a door and inside are survivors.
And their home fixture was thanks to you.
The extent of the particles and breakdown, the car is the best example. Every single part of the car can be broken down and dissected. The tech demos of Source 2 are demonstrating the capabilities to those that have seen it in every demonstration. Everything is put together and fabricated like real world items.
Temperature is a factor too and reflects on a lot. For example if it is very cold, glass will become more brittle and easier to break, whereas if it is 700 degrees the metal will start to melt and the rubber will stick to the surface and melt down.
There is also a connected experience that involves everybody that plays Half-Life 3, that effects environmental changes and explorable areas. Its like a "bookkeeper system" and makes a lot of content become dynamically introduced instead of downloading chunks, like what you do when you play online games with custom maps.
Story wise I know nothing at all. The G-Man has a larger presence than in all of the previous Half-Life games combined. I think you get to play as the G-Man or something similar to him with the bookkeeper system but it's beyond my knowledge. I also know nothing about the Red Herring ARG aside from the fact that it happened and upset a lot of you.
This game is not being made for VR or with VR in mind. VR will be served as an extension and with the random generated voice acting and lines and interactions the world and people will give you, VR will really immerse players into this experience. There are also broader forms of communication that can be persued. Both of these in mind we have learned from extensive research can actually help those with anxiety disorders, social and learning capabilities, and the disabled.
I hope I explained this thoroughly and clearly, it's a lot to take in and a lot for us to keep amongst ourselves. I can safely say that while the fan base and internet seems excited for Half-Life 3, WE are the most excited in the world. So many of us have put in so much hard work and time and effort to make this the most amazing experience that we can.
The product may release this year, the biggest factor that I've heard is marketability. Not for Half-Life 3 to be a commercial (?) success, but for one that doesn't hurt others' sales. Of course, we might need to add more work to the product and engine. But I hope you understand why it has taken us so long. The radio silence was largely due to the fact that there is a very unsettling tension amongst staff when suddenly there is a realization that we have to change a lot after announcing or telling everybody we are going to do something and it is going to be amazing. But I assure all of you it will satisfy and deliver for any and all fans of interactive entertainment. Hang in there, it's coming sooner than you think