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Half-Life’s Gabe Newell answers your questions

[intro]We put your questions to the driving force behind the Half-Life series, Gabe Newell. Answers here.[/intro]You want answers? We got answers. The

[intro]We put your questions to the driving force behind the Half-Life series, Gabe Newell. Answers here.[/intro]

You want answers? We got answers. These ones.

Conrad Hart asks: I’d love to know if they could have imagined during development the different things the gravity gun would end up being used for. I can’t think of a bigger example of emergent gameplay in recent years, i.e. people using the game in unintended ways. Gabe Newell: We knew right away that the Gravity Gun was going to be an interesting avenue for new types of gameplay, but our initial expectations for how significant a role it would play in the game grew tremendously during the development of Half-Life 2. That is evidenced in the early builds, which actually had the Ravenholm chapter – the area that introduces the Gravity gun to the player – taking place much later in the game’s timeline. As we brought gamers in to help us playtest the game, the Gravity gun’s actual design changed a fair amount as well. In the coming set of games we’re building, there are several new pieces of technology that we feel will extend the experience in similar fashion. In Portal, we’re introducing an item/weapon, that allows players to manipulate the actual environment in a manner similar to how the Gravity Gun allowed you to manipulate the items in the environment. In Episode Two we’re introducing the notion of cinematic physics, which extend the physics system introduced through the gravity gun to world objects, such as buildings and bridges. And in Team Fortress 2, we’re introducing our next generation facial animation system. As seen in the recently released “Meet the Heavy” short film, by running entirely on the GPU of today’s best videocards such as the ATI Radeon HD 2000, the facial animation not only looks dramatically better, but frees up the CPU to perform other tasks like cinematic physics and AI. Conrad Hart asks: Which Half-Life does he prefer? Gabe Newell: I’m proud of all the company’s work, but Episode Two is easily the best Half-Life game we’ve ever made, from a gameplay-, art-, and technology perspective. Conrad Hart asks: What do they use for inspiration for the games and what are their movie influences? Gabe Newell: We’re all big fans of games, movies, comics, novels, plays, even TV. And many here at Valve have a “previous life” in film, music, editorial, the fine arts, and beyond. At the end of the day, it’s the new ideas that are most interesting. So we’re always on the lookout for new people to join Valve from many sectors of the general “entertainment industry.” Ya Ka asks: How much fun is making a video game, is it a light hearted affair with mates or a dreary room with pages of text and numbers??? Gabe Newell: It’s a ton of work – lots of long nights, cold pizza, and caffeinated beverages. But it’s also the most fun I’ve ever called a “job.” Nomas asks: Will we ever find out what happened to Dr. Breen? Gabe Newell: I hope so. Stuff says: Thanks Gabe! See you later.