Poll Question 157 – Will Episode 3 be better because of L4D and TF2?

31st January 2010

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

I understand why Valve make other games, I do, I just don’t like it. I want the best Episode 3 they can make and I want it now.

In addition I want a series of video tutorials for making single player mods, a book and even paid forum support. Did I mention I want it NOW!?

But, sometimes you have to stop what you are doing, do something completely different and then go back to what you were doing 0 if that makes sense. Sometimes when you do that you do a better job. I am hoping that that is what Valve have done.

I am pretty sure that EP3 development has been ticking over for a while but now that they have released L4D2 I hope they begin to focus on EP3.

The question is what could they have learnt from those games that would make EP3 better? Players and mappers of those games are better able to answer that question but….

I predict

Episode 3 will have 4 player co-op mode and even be sold in special 4 Value packs.

But semi-seriously, what do you think they learnt, if anything and how will it affect the development of EP3?

The Poll


  1. Well, I’m not sure how Valve works, but maybe they have separate departments, one for Episode 3, one for extra TF2 content, and one for L4D 1 and 2 content? I’d imagine that would make sense, given they’ve got enough people.

    1. I am sure they do, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t pool their collective knowledge and experience.

    2. RustySpannerz

      Actually, Valve works in a very, very strange way. When they need something done a project lead will say,

      “Okay, we need two animators, a character modeller and a concept artist, if anyone wants to have a go, be at conference room no. 45 for 3:00pm”

      Anyway, if Valve are managing to put the AI from L4D into a totally unrelated multiplayer-only game, e.g. TF2 then I’m sure they can put it into another Zombie/singleplayer game.

  2. Voted maybe.
    There must be certain skills that are shared regardless of game type but not the top level artistry I suspect. Exceptions prove the rule they say and example comes to mind ‘sP Balcony” where Martin Seyfert AKA reaper47 turned his DM map into an excellent SP FPS map.
    Some artists, like the mappers and lead developers may not be able to make the transition from Multiplayer to Single Player.
    Analogy: Beethoven versus Mozart. Same tools, very different results and neither could swap places effectively even though they are in the same genre in the widest possible sense.

  3. jgoodroad

    there are several books on making hl2 sp mods…in fact there is one right next to me as I type, it’s Half-life 2 mods for dummies by Erik Guilfoyle it even comes with a CD!

    1. there are several books on making hl2 sp mods…in fact there is one right next to me as I type, it’s Half-life 2 mods for dummies by Erik Guilfoyle it even comes with a CD!

      I have that one in PDF format, but I want one written by Valve and also up to date. What other ones do you know of?

      1. jgoodroad

        there is a wiki, just open up hammer, go to help…it should be there like “help topics” or something.

  4. Pinky

    I believe that Valve knows what it can do, and has developed many new technologies that it will surely implement into Episode 3, like the AI from Left 4 Dead. I doubt that it will be co-op, however.

    Recently, I was thinking about how long it is taking for Episode 3 to come out. Valve will not be making Half-Life 3, but that doesn’t mean that Episode 3 won’t be huge. Think of the gap between HL1 and HL2. Half-Life 2 was the best game of its generation, and my favorite game of all time. It featured new technologies, great graphics, and a great story. What if Valve does the same with Half-Life Episode 3?

    1. I wasn’t really thinking about technology so much, more to do with gameplay management and other less easily defined aspects.

      Valve will not be making Half-Life 3

      Is that your guess or do you have a recent quote to that effect. I can’t seem to find a definitive answer.

      1. Kyouryuu

        If you’re not arguing on technical grounds, what exactly are you arguing? It’s not like the talent behind Half-Life 2 and its Episodes magically fled the company in the intervening years.

        1. I’m not arguing anything, I am asking. I am wondering whether they learnt anything about what players like and don’t like, how to introduce certain gameplay features other things similar to those.

          Who said anything about talent being lost?

          Have you never found that doing something else made you better at other things? I have and all I am asking is do other readers think this could have happened with Valve and EP3.

  5. I haven’t played either, and haven’t really planned to, (Never finished Bioshock, got fed up with the navigation.) to be honest. The videos I’ve seen of both look pretty fantastic though, and the graphics/animation & AI have obviously moved on way beyond anything I’ve played….

    I sincerely hope that the new mechanics and other developments are included in not only the next Episode, but HL3 too….(The “Are they going to stop at Ep3?” discussion has rumbled on for a very long time now, and if memory serves is present on PP too…)

    My biggest concern though is that, like HL2, all those years ago, the next phase might require an awful lot of hardware upgrading. I hope that they will cater for the vast majority though who are on something of a budget!

  6. I think a re-vamp of HL2: Deathmatch is in order, if not way overdue.

    There are many possibilities left untapped for HL2: Deathmatch.

  7. CrowbarSka

    I sincerely hope they implement some of L4D’s technology in Ep3. The navigation meshes used for AI path-finding are far superior to HL2’s node based system and allow the NPCs to move through the environment in a more convincing and challenging way. I would love to see the Combine soldiers climbing up low walls and generally seeming more like they are actually in a real physical world.

    One thing I know Valve has learned is how not to produce a sequel. The whole fiasco with L4D2 (being released only a year after its predecessor and not having changed much) caused a lot of anger and disappointment towards Valve, so I’m sure they’ll tread carefully when it comes to Episode 3.

  8. Joe

    I think episode 3 will be the same in terms of length and quality to episode 2. I can tell you not it wont be co-op. Valve however did say they wanted to expand on Alyx a bit. Give her a branch of games of her own.
    Though I will probably be dead by the time HL3 rolls out.
    I find it hard to believe they have ‘learned” anything. Whats the big deal? A game comes out later then usual. Your still going to buy it. Why change the formula of a game that already makes money?
    In terms of L4Ds improved source engine and features I see no reason why they would not incorporate those extra features. Bar the fact they may not be needed.
    I’m pretty sure they will make HL3 I don’t know why everyone is acting like “all is lost”. I can assure you if Valve think there is money to be made, they will make it. I am 99% sure Half Life 3 is still a profitable game. At the moment just not as profitable as TF2 and L2D.
    (sorry if that comment sounded very negative I didn’t mean it to)

  9. Senkus

    They were able to develop the Source Engine from 2007 to now. To me that is already justifying a yes.
    I think that they could bring some gameplay ideas that didn’t work in TF2 or L4D to Episode 3 if those are fun there.

  10. Grey Acumen

    What I don’t understand is why it is being suggested that work on MULTI Player games will benefit a SINGLE Player game development. The work needed in terms of storyline, mapping, gameplay balance and even graphics are entirely different.

    If anything, it’s more likely that work on PORTAL will be of more benefit to Episode 3 than TF2 would be. The only thing I can see that EP3 would benefit from any development on the L4D series would be the ability to damage parts and maybe some lighting and graphic details.

    There’s no way in hell the HL series is going to swing into multiplayer coop for the final episode. Synergy already gives support for that so there’s no reason for Valve to do anything but focus on the single player aspects of Ep3.

    1. I am not suggesting that EP3 will be come MP. Imagine this. You play tennis. You are okay but you could improve. Your buddy ask you to go fishing with him. You agree but find it a little boring. After a few times you begin to see the enjoyment and you become more patient. Next time you play tennis, you play better because you have learned some patience.

      There are lots of different things we can learn from different activities that sometimes help in other areas.

  11. Talon

    I am hoping that their new experience with making the Left4Dead games will inspire them to create more innovative zombies with better AI used in more horrifying and unexpected situations. Maybe each zombie in HL2 Ep3 will have a unique skin instead of looking like clones of one another.

  12. Muzzow

    I voted just delayed. Valve is busy with the Half-Life universe for more than ten years now. Clearly they needed something else to work on, giving the story around Gordon Freeman a break. I can’t speak for the devs, just throwing in my two cents: if I would create a franchise and would be adding to it ever since (HL, HL2 + Episodes = story development, better engine, etc), I would reach a point where I’m “bored” and can’t come up with something better. Every HL-game was better than the previous one, it’s surely hard labor to think of a new storyline to make Ep3 an awesome experience storywise. I’m not thinking about gameplay and engine tweaks here. Even the most stunning graphics, realistic AI and gorgeous environment is unimportant if the game lacks interesting storytelling – or a story at all.
    A good example is Rowlings Harry Potter books. The first parts were great, the rest displayed more and more that the author was lacking further ideas and grew bored of her own storyline, turning the whole series into an awkward desaster what had begun so promising, fresh and as a totally new idea.
    To come back to your poll question, I even have to say that I rather prefer Valve making other games (Portal 2, for example) instead of growing tired of Half-Life and ruining everything in the end: Better no further Episode at all than some rushed or uninspired work, like it had happened with L4D2. Other companies are out for the gamers money. Valve at least left the impression behind that they somehow not only want to make money but actually cared a bit for their customers. And, due to L4D2, let’s hope that they won’t botch their reputation now with growing greed… pushing out games before they’re finished and bug-free; and, to make things worse, those “new” games are totally uninspired and boring. I don’t want that happening to Half-Life, too.

  13. At a first glance, I can’t see how anything from TF2 or L4D/2 could be transferred over to Ep3 but there have been different improvements and changes to the Source engine that were made specifically for these releases. If those changes benefit Ep3 I’m sure someone has picked up on it (That sounds a bit haphazard. Some crossovers were probably prearranged).

    Though, I believe that Valve has learnt more on the management side from developing L4D2 in such a short period. Hopefully, some of that will rub off on the Ep3 team.

    I don’t think that having TF2 and L4D/2 has delayed Ep3 coming out. I feel that much of the work has been happening in parallel and Valve is still keeping up with the strategy that we all appreciate, perfectionism.

  14. bobdog

    I agree with Phillip that stepping back from something often gives you better clarity. Although Valve supposedly have written how the HL storyline proceeds, sometimes you do need a breath of fresh air to take your mind off it. I also believe I read somewhere that they were focusing all their talent on L4D to get it out the door, excepting probably the Portal team, whose work is so different from anything else Valve creates.

    And I think Valve will incorporate certain elements that they have learned, especially through the L4D series. Someone mentioned the ability of foes to navigate nearly any obstacle, which could be applied to Combine, antlions, zombies, etc. Also the idea of multiple skins for zombies would be appreciated, as developed for L4D2, where they feature 20,000 options for skins.

    I disagree that L4D2 is uninspired — some of the missions are amazingly crafted. In Hard Rain, for example, you must navigate a neighborhood as a thunderstorm breaks loose, raising the water levels and changing your path on the return trip. Imagine such a level in HL2 where water/acid/lava slowly rises and you must constantly keep abreast of it. Or in the bridge finale of the Parish map-set — how about developing another bridge event in HL2 that forces you to crawl all around on it. And the new zombie types that were introduced show some ingenuity in getting a party of Survivors to continue moving forward, rather than hunkering down.

    Valve was nicked I think because gamers didn’t EXPECT Valve to be so efficient in creating a viable sequel within a year’s time. They’re used to Valve’s lengthy 2-3-4 year timetable of sequel releases, so the fact that Valve introduced something so quickly smelled “wrong” to these naysayers. I say, if Valve can continue to produce winners, I’d gladly take a sequel every year.

  15. Botolf

    Better technology, better pipeline, new lessons learned from testing and development from other titles.

    Things gained and learned from Team Fortress 2, Portal, Left 4 Dead, and Left 4 Dead 2 don’t just vanish into the ether before they make their way to the people developing Episode Three.

  16. Forget to add I voted, “Yes, they learned something new.”

  17. zagles

    Well, after the disaster that is L4D2(made for the console in mind) Im worried about Ep 3.

  18. Kasperg

    As long as Ep3 doesn’t switch to cartoonish mode, arcade-ish mode and start having text floating on top of Alyx so you know where she is, I think it’ll be fine.
    Now seriously, if we were back in 2000, you could say that the stuff they learned from multiplayer would be useful for singleplayer. I made about 50-55 deathmatch maps before moving to SP, and can’t say there’s much in common. Things like ammo placement are for example extremely different in SP and MP. The flow of multiplayer maps has to stand an infinite amount of run through combinations etc.
    But Valve already knew enough game design theory half a decade ago. I don’t think the multiplayer IPs will add anything besides the already mentioned graphic enhancements and *maybe* better AI navigation of obstacles.

  19. SLi-WooDy

    I think valVe knows it needs to pull something big out the bag with EP3. Ep1, and Ep2 whilst good were just add ons to HL2 which had its day.
    You look at MW SP now and compare to HL2 – you just cant release another HL2 add-on.
    The bar has been raised, and ValVe are the masters at pushing it further. This is why they are in business and one the best at it.
    They wouldnt want just average, they would want the best- So that means making everything else look average-

    1. Kasperg

      Any ideas on how that might be possible with Source?
      I mean, after the alien ship and snowy parts of Crysis, there’s very little options for a Source Engine alien + snow theme to achieve anything groundbreaking.
      All my hopes are really geared towards story elements. Not just the actual voice acted and character parts about it, but on the possibility of learning something relevant to the big picture (Gman etc).

  20. BluncheonMeat

    They probably learned that multi-player is more profitable than sp. As long as they come up with something good,I don’t really care about the rest at the moment.

  21. lolomatic101

    I consider TF2 and Left4Dead(1 and 2) to be a sort of testing ground on the technology aspect. For example the storms in L4D2 Hard Rain is great! And if EP3 will take place in the arctic it would be nice to have a blizzard or something. For the story? I’m not too worried… If Valve takes the time they need and do not rush it I’m sure the game will be perfect…

    Hail Planetphillip and Hail Valve!

  22. SPY

    i believe I did read a while ago that valve still doesn’t know when, they will go on with Hl2’s episodes. I for one hope SO much that they will make a HL3, and not a ep3. I can’t stand those eps, it’s just to make more money out of a slightly enhanced engine. the differences are so small between HL2 itself and its eps that it just feels like you
    re playing a well made rather short mod. because short they are, those eps.
    that all said I still hope for a HL3 or just even a ep3, even when this probebly not happen will happen. they have learned probebly some extra things, but most importent is that the engine will be much better.
    ep3 will probebly be like ep2, some new models and textures added together with old hl2 stuff.
    i know, I don’t sound positive, but by now they just should come with a new game, not again another short episode.
    just my opinion,


    1. RustySpannerz

      Yeah, but there’ll be a totally new bit of story. Admitedly Valve shouldn’t have started them in the first place, but as Valve have said before, the episodes are pretty much HL3.

  23. Zeeky Note

    If they made Portal 2 before ep3 I would be REALLY mad. But there is probably a 1 in 100000 chance of that happening.

  24. Beastery

    I sure hope that they make a new god damn engine. Even if it is just an improved source engine.

  25. Pingback: Episode #69 » Podcast17

  26. Wesp5

    I think that Valve only made L4D and especially L4D2 because they needed quick money besides the shares they get from Steam and this will not influence the development of EP3 much. The L4D levels were not really spectacular and while the AI could surely be imported it wouldn’t change a lot in a linear game like HL2. I rather fear that they also made L4D and L4D2 because they have problems finishing EP3 like they had with HL2 itself. And regarding Portal, I already was bored by the end of it, instead of making a Portal 2, which probably never would beat all the custom maps made, Valve should rather include the element into EP3…

  27. bkadar

    3?, 3? are you there? don’t be shy ,ep3 we just want play….

    1. rumrunner

      I think they are not there.
      If Leon gets the bugs out we will have closure(pun intended)

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