Poll Question 108 – Would you prefer to wait for a full game for Episode 3?

24th January 2009

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Vocal Opponent

I’ve been a vocal opponent of Episodes almost from the beginning. I don’t like them and feel they have stifled the modding community by making modders unsure which engine they should make the mod for. (It’s my understand that the OB SDk solved that problem but I am not sure). I believe that Valve have publicly stated that they were reconsidered their stance on Episodes, although I couldn’t find a reference to it. It did find this though from Doug Lombardi: “we’re taking more time because it’s a more ambitious project”.

I am hoping that means the game will be longer.

Now, of course, long doesn’t automatically mean good but I would rather wait 5 years for a full game, even if it means dropping the Episode 3 title, than getting a game of more or less the same length as Ep1 or Ep2.

In my case it’s got nothing to do with the cost but rather the enjoyment. If they rleased Episodes every year I might be able to handle that but they don’t and in that case I’d rather wait the full term.

Back in October 2007 I asked the question Would you have preferred Half-Life 3 as a full game or as episodes? and it’s clear from the results that most PP readers who voted wanted the full game.

The question is Would you?

The Poll


  1. Luke L

    The very definition of episodic content means chunks of gameplay released frequently and consistently. Waiting several years at a time for a bit more of the story is a frustrating prospect. As you said, if the episodes were released one after another with maybe 12 months in between it would have been acceptable, but this is just annoying now, left mid-story.

    I would rather Valve had worked on creating HL3 (with the 3 episodes) and released it when they’re all done while in the meantime rolling back the SDK changes into HL2 for modders.

  2. Sortie

    I’ve always been a fan of the Episodic Content. I didn’t grow up with the long wait between HL1 and HL2, so I never waited that long for a game. But even though, after finishing HL2 I checked if any expansion packs were available. I was really happy to hear about Lost Coast and Aftermath, even though Lost Coast was kind of an disappointment.

    Both Episode One and Episode Two turned out to be rather good, at least for me. Episode Two was far better than expected, even though it took extra time to produce. Somehow, I expect Episode Three to be much better than Episode Two, I recall Valve saying that themselves.really don’t care how large and often Valve makes their games, as long as they’re Valve Quality.

    Therefore, I wouldn’t mind a HL3, but the Episodic system works very well for me, because of the “shorter” waits, but right now, I’d rather have Ep3 than HL3 if it meant HL3 would be years away.

    1. It’s worth noting that Valve have said that the three episodes are HL3. What I am suggesting is make Episode 3 into HL4 and merge Episode One and Two and call it HL3.

  3. Kasperg

    I’d wait, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. I might surprise people with what I’m about to say, but I felt Episode 2 was overdone. Not in the sense that it looked too good or played too well, but in the sense that I felt a great deal of effort or thought and planning was there just for the sake of having a dev commentary or a ridiculous achievement. As I have said in some previous post, this breaks immersion for me. It was less obvious in Ep1, but in the episodes we’re seeing more of a tailored and heavily directed experience than what the unpredictable HL2 was most of the time.
    As a mapper I can boldly say that the episodes should take a team of Valve mappers, coders, texture artists and modellers about 4 times as less they are taking. I don’t know whether they only work 2 days a week, their efforts are elsewhere in games I’m not interested in (Team Fortress, Left for dead etc) or if 60% of the development cycle for each episode is just playtesting. I really don’t know.
    All I know is that put together, the episodes could really be a nice game at the level of Half-life 2. Right now, they aren’t.
    Others might not share my point of view, but when you do too much level design you start seeing other maps and games differently, thinking about other things besides the playing experience.

  4. CrowbarSka

    I think in retrospect I would have enjoyed a full game instead of all the episodes, but I don’t think I would feel this way if the episodes had been released as regularly as they were promised. Although if they had then they probably wouldn’t be as high quality as they are now…

    I want to the the episodes finished the way they started. Episodes 1 and 2 would seem very out of place and insignificant if they were sandwiched between two full games. Maybe Half-Life 3 could be the other way round: three episodes to set the scene, followed by an epic full game conclusion.

  5. Gypsy Jim

    I personally really disliked the confusion over the Episodes v the full game, thinks “Half Life 2: Episode 1” should by Phillip’s (& Valve’s) statement “Half Life 3:Episode 1” on the basis that HL2 was a “full game”…

    I voted “Wait for the full game” but as an HL addict if I have to wait and then make do with Episodes then so be it. By then I may well have a PC that can do the really top stuff, but by then they’ll have moved the goal-posts again to somewhere beyond the reach of us mere mortals….

    Thank goodness for Messrs Leon-SPY, Adam Foster et alia for producing their superb mods in the meantime to keep us hungry for more!

    As it is, with the official releases, I replayed Ep 1 a good few times, but Ep 2 only a handful, whereas I still keep going back to the original and loading up either the Nova Prospeckt maps, or the Buggy ride, or the Airboat, just because they were fantastic, and still are!

    You can’t say the same about any of the scenes in the Episodes so far……with the possible exception of the blitz at the end of Ep2 that is….

  6. firba1

    I think that the possibilities for the episodes were great and Valve has pulled them off fairly well, but I think that the simple fact is I would have rather been getting HL3 next year than be MAYBE getting Episode 3 this year. Episodes 1 and 2 were both fun, but they didn’t have quite the same feel as HL2. I didn’t really like the antlion caves in Episode 2 and Episode 1’s whole story wasn’t really all that memorable to me. I think that it would have been a better move for Valve just to go the other way and make a whole HL3 for 6 years, rather than the episodes for 5 (or 6).

    Don’t get me wrong, I thought Ep1 and Ep2 were both really fun, and I think that the way the story has gone has really been enhanced by the episodic structure. But I feel that a big, polished, epic feeling game like HL2, or not like HL2, to continue the trend, would be really cool. If they did that with HL3, I would not mind at all.

  7. MASTER74

    I find this “episodic” thingy rather annoying; as Phillip pointed out, modders don’t know what game they are supposed to make mods for and start to mix things in a very outrageous way (Miverva 1 for HL2 and Minerva 2 for HL2:E1, mods for HL2 that ask you to install CSS and DoD). In addition, gamers (us) have to keep installing/uninstalling games (Half-Life rocks but I won’t install the whole source series from HL:S to HL2:E2 just to play a mod or a map).
    The whole episodic thing was fun for a while, but now it got old. Valve should seriously start thinking of developing FULL games now.

  8. Zaphod

    I prefer the episodic releases. I don’t want to wait the time it takes for a full game to be developed.

    I think the episodic content is good for the modding community. There is three reasons for this I can think of:

    1. Let’s say the episodes newer was made. Instead Valve released a full game, HL3. When the game is released It get lots of attention and many people starts make beautiful mods for it. When he time goes by HL3 becomes older and people starts to loose interest. Modders abandon HL3 and starts modding for newer games. I think the episodic content keep the interest for Half-Life up and this leads to more mods being made.

    2. If the episodes never was released and we was still waiting for a full Half-Life 3, all mods would still use the HL2 engine. There would not be any mods with HDR, motion blur or any of the other capability’s of the newer versions of Source.

    3. All mods would also have to use the HL2 textures, moddels and enemies. The episodic content has added new content the modders can use which gives more diversity to mods and mapps.

  9. Kasperg

    Zaphod, I don’t think content and engine improvements are what the dilemma is about. HL2DM also supports HDR lighting and it’s not episodic. If Valve wanted to, they could’ve made all those improvements available for Half-life 2, as well as create new texture packs or release some of the new models for everyone to use.
    I’ve used HDR in some maps (HL2DM and CS:S) and while its a pretty effect, it made my maps twice the size and I think it wasn’t worth it.
    I also don’t agree that mods would still have to use HL2 textures or models only (there are plenty of tools to create content) or that it isn’t possible to create a good HL2 mod with standard HL2 assets. After all, a game as big as HL2 was made with them!

  10. MASTER74

    Zaphod, your point #1 doesn’t make much sense actually. There’s a lot of old games which people continue to make mods for; Half-Life 1(Gold Source) is a good example of this, and also games like Quake 1-2-3, Duke Nukem 3D, Unreal Tournament 99, Doom 1-2, etc…

    I still think the episodic thing should come to an end, let the full games begin!

  11. Zaphod

    MASTER74, It is true many old games are still modded for, but I belive HL2 benefit from the episodic releases.

    My theory goes like this: Every time a new episode is released the game get lots of attention, gamers that got bored with HL2 and moved on to other games starts playing it again and people unfamiluar to the series discover it. This increases the userbase for mods. The new releases might also inspire people to mod the game. Resulting in more mods being developed.

    Well, it is just a theory, I may be completely wrong. 🙂

  12. T'krau

    I have mixed feelings about this – I don’t mind the episodic release pattern in itself (especially given VALVe’s id-like tendency to release stuff “…when it’s done…”), but waiting two years or so for one episode (that’ll have what, maybe six hours of gaming?) is a little much. I hadn’t thought of the SDK / modder’s issue until it was pointed out here, and yeah…that is also an issue. Overall, I agree that the episodic release thingy was nice, but it’s kinda past it now and VALVe should work on full releases, as long as they can crank out more that one title per decade.

    It just now occured to me that episodic releases could be a way of keeping the HL story alive beyond Ep. 3 (which V has said they’d like to do) – I’d like to see a scenario that has them releasing a new HL episode alongside whatever new title(s) they come up with, although it may be time to retire Gordon et.al. Use it as a way of introducing new characters and/or story lines into a world we already know, or something.

  13. I think the fact that overshadows all of this debate is this: development times are getting longer and longer. Although they didn’t go about it as well as they could have in some ways, the episodes are brilliant games and I’d rather have played the first two already than still be waiting for a full length Half-Life 3 now.

    The whole episode naming structure is a bit of a debacle (even Valve admit it), but there’s no denying the quality of the games themselves. They’re excellent. Anyway, if they had chosen to create Half-Life 3 in one huge meal rather than in bite size portions, it’s anyone’s guess how long it would’ve taken. And the longer it takes, the more outdated the engine becomes, thereby creating something of a domino effect, requiring yet more time to update — or, worse, replace — the engine itself. Source is already less than cutting edge, and I think it’s safe to say that they’re getting more life out of it making episodic releases than if they’d started work on a full game and had to replace (or at least overhaul) the engine late in the development cycle.

    Hey, I’m no expert, that may or may not have been necessary had they taken that path, but we all know how fast this kind of technology can move, and how fast things can become obsolete.

  14. I’ll be satisfied with HL2:E3 wrapping up the series. Then they can work on HL3 after that or something. There’s no point to causing more confusion trying to make it into a whole standalone game.

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