Source Comment System Ideas

2nd September 2006

Introduction

For those that don’t know (is that possible?) the Source engine used to power Half-Life 2 and a number of other games include the ability for developers to insert comments anywhere within the game. This allows them to discuss certain design features, gameplay decisions etc. It’s a great idea but one that I believe has, up until now, been under exploited. I would like to present a couple of ideas of my own for how it could be used.

Interviews

I was hoping to keep this idea to myself until I had a chance to test and release it. I was planning to conduct interviews with mods teams and individuals within the comments system. The plan was to play the game alongside the developer and stop and ask questions at certain points. These conversations would probably discuss something related to the placement of the comment but not necessarily.

This implementation would probably need to have been done before the release of the mod but perhaps it’s possible to add the comment details later. Does anybody know if this is possible? That would mean you could download small files that were just the interviews.

Walkthroughs

This seems another ideal use. When the player is stuck they can simply go to options and turn on the comments feature and listen (or watch?) to an explanation about where to go.

I said or watch because it seems to me that a small window could open within the game that could contain video. This may be particularly useful for complicated walkthroughs.

Time Delayed Hints

One thing I would like to see is Time Delayed Hints. The developer sets a certain time limited for a level or area, if the player has not completed the level by this time the hints symbol is displayed. This time would need to be judged carefully because not every players rushes through a game.

Comment Levels/Groups

It would be good if the user could download and view more than one group of comments. For example using the walkthrough idea, there could be a group of comments called HINTS, that would simply give some vague clue and another group called EXACT that would explain in details where to go and what to do.

Developer Control Over The Symbol

Perhaps this is possible already but it seems a natural progression that a developer (amateur and licensees) should have control over what type of symbol is displayed. Perhaps with many different types of uses this needs to be considered.

Control Panel

I envisaged the system would be controlled from the options menu, with the player being able to select what comment group is displayed. A simple check box system would be fine.

Your Turn

Anyway, there you have them. What are your thoughts? Got any other uses to suggest?

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2 Comments

  1. As far as I know the comments aren’t supported by the original HL2, only by Lost Coast and Ep1. Their txt files are in the maps folder with the same name as the map’s and with the appropriate sound files. Since you need to specify the icon’s coordinates on the map in the txt file you’ll still need the map source to place them on the map.

  2. I was presuming that since the release of Lost Coast it included a Source update that allowed developers to use the system. I realize that valve haven’t released any commentary for HL2 but that doesn’t mean other developers couldn’t.

    I understand what you are saying about the co-ordinates within the map, it’s just a pity that those files can’t be seperate and somehow overlaid onto the map. It would obviously mean the the person making the comments has a copy of the map in front of them but that shouldn’t be a problem.

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