Poll Question 127 – Will We Be Playing Half-Life in 20 Years Time?

14th June 2009

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

So there I was watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s when it occurred to me I was watching a film nearly 50 years old.

Entertainment Comparisons

I think it can be a useful exercise to compare gaming to other forms of entertainment. You can look at a wide range of aspects and find similarities and differences. In fact I would love to read a detailed article exactly about that.

Anyway, the one aspect I want to concentrate on is longevity. Some forms of entertainment have been around a lot longer than others; music, stage and written stories have all been with us for many hundreds of years, so we will come back to them a little later.

Perhaps closer to gaming are television, movies and radio. The basic mechanics of making a movie haven’t changed all that much in the last 80 years. Sure, CGI is a huge change but it hasn’t replaced actors or real life movies. If you remade Breakfast at Tiffany’s today the quality of the image might be better, but it would essentially be the same film.

Is gaming too linked to the technical aspects to allow games to be enjoyed for more than a few years? Some players still play Half-Life, that’s over ten years after it was released but is that more to do with nostalgia than the quality of the game? Games look dated much faster than films or television.


Are some forms of entertainment simply timeless compared to gaming? Let’s talk about music, stage and written stories for a moment. I, like most people, believe I have a wide range of musical tastes. I can happily listen to John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, followed by Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Little” Fugue in G minor and finish with Eminem’s Beautiful. They vary in age but that doesn’t affect my enjoyment.

Thousands of people every day listen to classical music written and first performed hundreds of years ago. It’s hard to believe that people would still be playing Half-life in 2209. The same goes for stage plays. Shakespeare’s work continues to be perform regularly.

We have all read books! Some from 20 years agao, some 100, some even more. Does that age spoil your enjoyment or in fact enhance it? With all forms of entertainment we have a window into the culture of where and when it was produced.

Are the formative Years more important than any other aspect?

As much as I enjoy listening to the artists mentioned above, there is a special place in my heart for Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb simply because it was thee song of my formative years. In fact, I am listening to it as I type this.

We are so impressionable at that age that whatever experiences we have become very important to us. Is this the same with gaming? probably. Will whatever you were playing at that time be more important than anything after?

I still enjoy a game of Space Invaders and even enjoy playing around with Rubik’s Cube, which was also released around my teenage years.


Perhaps we will simply be Remaking Games. Of course, your first reaction is Black Mesa Source and that’s valid, but that can’t continue. No team is going to commit to remaking the exact same game in each new engine. What we need is a in a new way. I digress.

So, will we?

Back to the basic question. Will We Be Playing Half-Life in 20 Years Time?

I say probably, even in the original engine, simply because of that nostaliga feeling.

What do you think?

The Poll

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  1. Jasper

    Voted ‘maybe” because
    I’m 61 so I might not live that long!
    Computer technology hardware and software, will have moved along considerably. For example, my SP FPS gaming started with Blakestone (anybody else remember that?) shortly followed by Doom. I had to give up Blakestone in the mid 90s because the game just would not run even in MS DOS 5.1
    Games better than HL2 will come along, probably but not neccessarily from Valve/Steam, and outshine HL2 making it very dated – I can barely put up with Dooms, Quakes, Unreals and even HL nowadays because they are so dated. Dated does not mean bad, mind. They WERE and remain great games.

    1. Carolyn

      Lord I hope so!!! I too am 61 and I do plan to be alive then… : ) I keep returning to HL1. I really enjoy HL2 but there is just something so charming about the simplicity, yet involved gameplay of the original. Great question! It is a classic for sure.

  2. 23-down

    I also voted with “maybe”.

    It might be possible that we will play old games like Half-Life in 20 years.
    I mean we have Amiga Emulators and old console emulators that had their golden times long before the Amiga.

    In the present days we have programs like Dos box to play the games of the 90 which ran with Ms Dos only.

    So I believe the chances are good for hl in 20 years. That means if we don’t end up in a new ice age due to the global earth warming.

  3. AI

    I voted “maybe” cause 20yrs from now who knows what’s going to be out there! I’ll be 83 then (63 now) maybe in a wheelchair (ugh!) but if I can still play I’ll have a “wireless” laptop mounted on it!! (haha) See what all you “youngsters” have to look forward too!! BTW, Phillip, the movie you were watching was a good one! I still have my “original” IBM PS/1 with alot of my old games on it, Doom,Duke,Quake, ect.

  4. Aniline

    I voted “No” simply because technology will have moved on enough to make the interface we now use obsolete. I was playing Tank-Pong 30 years ago and, apart from the odd nostalgic revisit, I’m not about to set up an Atari corner in my room. I think FPS games are now limited by the hardware and I’m looking forward to getting away from the seated-joystick mode. I want to sweat and hurt when I meet combine.

  5. Kasperg

    Half-life 1, maybe. But you forgot to mention the whole issue of Steam accounts and online installing.Will Valve ever gives us the option to keep our games working even if their servers are not around, or will we have to resort to ilegal copies of the games we own to keep playing them in the future?

    About longevity, there’s a big issue that makes old 2D games different to old 3D games. While a 20-year old Super Mario World for SNES or any old Sonic game can still look and feel more or less perfect today (think of those Nintendo DS remakes), the first generation of 3D games was flawed in the sense that it actually tried to look real, but because of texture resolution, lighting methods, detail of models, physics etc, it was constantly being improved on and quickly became dated.
    Will anything else besides nostalgia make me want to play games which have been surpassed in ambience and quality of real world simulation? Maybe not. I know I’ve missed games from the late 90s but have no desire to give them a try now. They had their time window in which they were meaningful, but now it’s long gone.

    Think of it another way. If you showed someone who doesn’t know anything about the history of videogames four games like HL1, Crysis, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and a remake of Final Fantasy VI for Nintendo DS, HL1 will look the most dated of all to him, or at least the one in which the method of representation chosen does the worst job compared to what it is trying to look like.
    There’s a difference between making gameplay and aesthetic choices based on what you really want, or based on what hardware lets you do.
    I expect us as current players to revisit the HL series in the future, but we won’t see many future players as thrilled about it as we can be of old 2D games.

  6. firba1

    @Aniline: I would agree with you for games others than Valve ones. Valve’s current stance in the industry leads me to believe they may well last 20 more years, and if they do, Steam or its successor will probably still exist. However, considering how may games that Valve makes these days, I find it unlikely that I will play these older games again. However, it may happen, and that’s why I voted maybe. Sometimes I find myself downloading emulators so I can play old Sonic or Mario games. I still play the original N64 Super Smash Bros. not really for nostalgia’s sake, but because it’s a fun game.

  7. Freyband

    I have to say maybe for multiple reasons
    1: Mods, lots and lots of mods 🙂
    2: Always going to be those who love the oldies
    3: HL2 was a pretty dang good game and if you know how you can change quite a variety of things. So it’s maybe because some probably will move on (some already have I bet you) and some will stick around till they day they die.
    oh and four 4: Maybe we’ll get lucky and there will be an HL3 😀 (kinda kidding)

  8. galocza

    i voted NO.
    why? first there are technical reasons – im not sure if hl or hl2 will be playable on a computer even from 5 years on. of course it may be possible that a computer from 20 years in the future will run this games with an emulator effortlessly (winxp emu 8).
    second, – I guess this will be a surprise considering im a daily visitor here – im not THAT fond of hl games. the first one I played about 5-6 years ago and while I dont care about aged graphics I didnt see why it was voted best game ever or won that many awards. exceptional – yes, revolutionary – no. on mobygames hl got 95%, deus ex 90, morrowind 89 although these latter were in my opinion revolutionary (i know, different genre, anyway). or even shogo, that ugly underdog. and I liked hl2 less – I expected much more novel game elements.
    all this doesnt mean that I dont appreciate these games but if I had to choose from all my past games to (re)play these wouldnt be in the frist… I dont know… twenty, and I like replay my favourites: dx, fallout, nolf1-2, dungeon keeper2, blood2, shogo…
    id rather play with hl(2) mods than start over the main game, it never stops amazing me how wonderful mods the community can create.

  9. Zoomba

    I voted Yes. For me, Half Life is a timeless series, an instant classic along the same lines of “It’s A Wonderful Life”, a great Literary piece, or the game of baseball. It goes beyond time and calendar years. If there is a medium to be able to play Half Life games, I’m surely there.

  10. tattie

    I gave a maybe, and here’s me thinking I was an oldie gamer at 50.
    And maybe it will become “abandonware” if Steam dies.

  11. Kyouryuu

    I believe Kasperg has it right. When you look back on early 3D games such as those on the PlayStation 1, there’s not much that anyone would want to revisit. The system’s bigger hits, like Final Fantasy VII, relied heavily on traditional 2D visuals or stylization. The games that tried to mimic realism look the worst today.

    An example I like to use comes from Doom. Most of John Romero’s work on Doom is seen in the shareware episode, Knee Deep in the Dead. We all know the levels and their layouts. We are told that they are laboratories, hangars, and military bases, but there’s nothing beyond the name that supports that. It works in an odd, esoteric way. The mind fills in the details that aren’t there. Compare that to Doom 2 or even the later parts of Doom 1, where there was a greater emphasis on “real” locations. The city? It’s laughable by today’s standards!

    Eventually, especially within 20 years, there will be a game that topples Half-Life 2. Just as Grand Theft Auto is getting struck on all sides by other sandbox games, so too will the FPS genre. It is the nature of things. But it still has a good long life ahead of it too. For one important consideration, as it pertains to modding, is that HL2 begins to mark the limits of what a single modder can really do. With Unreal Tournament 3, I feel we’ve already reached that limit for multiplayer-oriented games. It takes months to make a great deathmatch map, and even then, is the end result any more fun than what could have been done for UT or UT2004 in a fraction of the time? Not really.



  13. Well, I voted for maybe. Just a few months ago, I picked up Doom and played it all the way through. I think that game is close to 15 years old. So I can see myself playing Half-Life in 20 years. But that’s me. I voted maybe because of the people who were born after Half-Life came out, who have games like Crysis. Those people are not going to want to play a game like Half-Life, when 20 years from now gaming will (Hopefully) look much better and be more advanced. That’s just my opinion though, I will always like Half-Life.

  14. Chris Fox

    Half Life 2 is an interesting case because, although the engine is already relatively dated, it has still has the ability to look good when done well — and it comes with the most comprehensive toolset available anywhere. Even idiots like me can create semi-impressive stuff and call it their own. That is the genius of Half Life.

    Think of the Hitman games. Man I love these games. I’ve bought all of them and I’ve played them to the sort of extent that would make some of you consider me truly insane (if you want a walkthrough, email me lol). I love those games. If a level-editor was available for any of them, then I would do that instead of make stuff for HL2. Without any doubt.

    But it isn’t. The authors of that game, despite their brilliance, have announced publically that they will never release an editor because they don’t want to become associated with sub-standard custom levels.

    This makes me very disappointed, because it’s the main reason that the Hitman franchise will (and almost already has) slip into complete nostalgic obscurity. I think it’s stupid. (Incidentally the other reason it will die, is mostly that you can’t play Hitman multiplayer). This game company have shot themselves squarely in the ass.

    Lets move back to Half Life 2. It has the toolset. It has the support. With enough effort, anyone can make anything they want with it. Factor in the dual single-and-multiplayer aspect, and you’ve got something that really can last forever.

    Unlike Doom, the original Half Life, and other games of that era – it is not terribly undeveloped. Sure, it can’t offer the same things that the Crysis engine does (and if anything takes over HL’s crown for modding, that’s gotta be it) but it does allow compelling games to be created relatively easily. By anyone.

    Damn, I still play point and click adventures created by amateurs. Do a search for “5 days a stranger” or “7 days a skeptic” ….. both entirely made by one guy. They’ll fill a whole day, and you’ll love it (if you’re anything like me).

    If you play those games … remember this when you play them : they required more real effort than any of my HL2 mods did.

    What we have with HL2 is a real potential for a lifetime full of free games.

    I don’t know of any other game (except potentially Crysis) which currently can offer anything close to this.

    So – to answer the poll question. Will I still be playing Half Life mods in 20 years?

    The answer is I don’t really know.

    But it’s FAR more likely to be HL2 than most other current games.

    This post sponsored by a fairly large quantity of Kronenburg 1664.

  15. Memobot

    I’m saying yes because the first HL game has passed the 10 year mark and is nearing it’s 11th birthday. Valve help, with their never-ending support and updates, so there is no reason why any Valve games, HL, TF2, L4D etc. should ever be ignored or overlooked a few decades from now.

  16. esswok

    hope so
    I stareted in 1998.

    I wish I knew were the other old timers went that were at the original information fourms

  17. Barnz

    I still play original Half-Life like there’s no tomorrow (since “98).

  18. GeorgeC

    I vote Yes. Simply because I still play Hl1. And I would want to in 20 years to get the feeling of real gameplay – rather than graphics.

  19. I don’t know about anyone else, but I sure as hell will still be playing Half Life in 20 years. The graphics and physics may be a little dated, but the controls are smooth and comfortable. Black Mesa may end up replacing it as what I primarily play, but I know I’ll still be hitting some of the mods for HL1, and I still might play HL1 itself just for the nostalgia factor.

  20. Actually I was hoping for death before the next 20 years goes by, but if I don’t, I probably will be..lol

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