Well I just want to thank Rick Ellis from Valve Software for taking the time to help finish this interview that I worked on and sent so long ago.
With the recent news of the sdk this interview comes just in time. In my first email with Rick and Chris from ( Valve Erc ) the SDK will be released on Valve Erc first so the other rumors of this site and that site will have it first is a lie!
NOTE. This interview / Q&A was conducted much earlier this year. Posting it now even though much of what is said may have been said before, or may even be irrelevant.
Name: Scott aka INtense!
Administrator of modDB.com
1) Half Life really was a modders dream. There were no boundaries, realism modifications proved just as easy to make and fun as were the outrageous ones. The game and its mods really covered all genera’s, have you ensured this versatility is maintained in HL2? Will bright colors, crazy dynamics and the customizability of the original still be there? How can you prove this?
Rick Ellis: We’ve actually given the mod developer more options for creating mods. There’s the physics system, which allows you to have very creative and fun interactions with the world for solving puzzles, defending yourself or using objects as weaponry. The AI system gives you much more flexibility in creating realistic friends and enemies and the facial animation system will allow your creations to express emotions and expressions in ways that cannot be accomplished in any other game.
Administrator of modDB.com
1) With all the exciting news of Half Life 2 coming via E3 will there be a Half Life Expo? I take it down the road there will be Half Life2 Expo?
Rick Ellis: At some point in the future we are likely to have a Mod Expo for Half-Life 2.
2) With Half Life 2 modders already eager to begin work what are the limitations of the HL2 engine in terms of max weapon and player model polys?
Rick Ellis: Determining how many polys to build objects from is not as easy as stating a raw number. We base everything on FPS performance and adjust the model complexity so that we have not only great visuals but also great performance. There are many ways to optimize performance, the use of area portals and shutting off physics simulations for entities that can’t be seen are two really effective methods.
3) Many mod designers are already planning on porting over their HL1 mods. Will this be a drastic change for the team involving a steep new learning curve or shall it be intuitive?
Rick Ellis: Of course this depends on the complexity of their mods, however in most cases it will be very easy to port a mod to Half-Life 2.
4) What level of environment interaction possible in HL2 that modders will be able to utilize? Will features such as those seen in Hitman where the player can grab onto other players for example be a possibility?
Rick Ellis: The player can interact with any physically simulated entity in the level. That includes picking up items, throwing them, pushing them etc. Players can interact with (control) machines as well.
5) What is the sound format of a voice (HL had 11khz 8bit mono, I expect 44khz 16bit mono)
Rick Ellis: 44Khz, 16 bit Stereo for all music and sounds, mono for voices.
Administrator of modDB.com
1) The source engine is obviously very powerful, is there any Half Life code in it?
Rick Ellis: All of the code in the Source engine is new.
2) You said somewhere they you were disappointed with the way FPS games had advanced in the past 5 years. Half Life 2 presumably will set the standard for the next 5 years of FPS, so what new and interesting features are going to make Half Life 2 the benchmark?
Rick Ellis: I think what fans will be the most impressed with and will begin to expect to see in other games are the physics system and the facial animation. This is really the first time that physics have been used for actual gameplay, not just special effects. This is also really the first time that a game has had such realistic characters that bring so much life to the game.
Staff from modDB.com
1) Recent games have been criticized for the high-end machines they demand. Will HL2 in comparison to some of the new games out there (UT2K3, NOLF2 etc..) actually run faster or prove even more troublesome to people with slower PCs?
Rick Ellis: The engine scales very well down to DX6 parts. Obviously there will be a few things missing so the image quality won’t be quite the same but users with DX6 parts and up should still expect to have a great gaming experience.
Staff from modDB.com
1) How much coffee was consumed while developing Source?
Rick Ellis: Gallons of coffee and pop.
2) Do you have any plans to license the Source engine to other game developers?
Rick Ellis: Yes, in fact Troika is already building a Vampire game based on our engine. They showed it at this year’s E3.
Name: The Duct Tape Duck
Location: PA, USA
Question: If Alex isn't a playable character, how will she effect the game?
Rick Ellis: She guides you and gives you help throughout the game.
Name: Andrew 'Argyll' Spearin
Question: Will the ballistics of bullets be closer to real actions? e.g. path, arc, ricochets, etc.
Rick Ellis: No, for now anyway, the bullets are trace-based.
Name: Jon Boyd
Question: Besides the new tigger system and built in terrain editor, what else is going to be new in the new valve hammer editor?
Rick Ellis: The entity I/O for controlling entity behavior (AI), 3D skyboxes and many new/faster methods of doing things are also in Hammer. Also, we’ve added the torus as one of the basic building blocks. This makes it easy to build smooth pipes, tunnels etc.
Name: Jason Donohoo
Question: After completing the game, what do you expect/want people to say about their gaming experience?
Rick Ellis: We hope people love it as much as we love building the game.
Name: John Wagner
Question: What is the model format going to be? And will you be including your own model editor?
Rick Ellis: The model format is very similar to the original Half-Life 1 .mdl format. We will be including SoftImage’s XSI EXP in the development tools for making high quality models. You will also receive a model viewer that will allow you to examine your models with various parameters.
Name: Chris "the|Skrilla" Rogers
Question: What capabilities does source have for expanding from the FPS genre?
Rick Ellis: Three of the biggest things that Source has to expand the FPS genre are facial expressions/animations, advanced AI and real world physics. The physics engine allows us to build new and very interesting types of game play while the facial expressions allow us to more realistically convey information to the user and help the user feel emotional about the game. The advanced AI will make fighting with teammates better as well as making opponents more realistic and in some cases more difficult.
Name: Michael Mallet
Question: What kind of AI behavior can we expect in HL 2? Will the enemies react also to sounds? (Like they can hear your footsteps in a hallway or a gun battle in progress, which they come to give reinforcements)
Rick Ellis: Yes enemies can hear things like your footsteps or even grenades in the air (they will run for cover if you throw grenades at them). They also react by sight, shooting you when they see you, or fleeing from being run over by a vehicle. Additionally, enemies in squadrons will “inform” each other that they notice something so they will work together to eliminate the threat.
Name: Jeroen van Spier
Location: The Netherlands
Question: Are the maps still made out of blocks and cylinders etc, or will it have a totally different system?
Rick Ellis: Maps are “roughed out” with world brushes, blocks, cylinders, toruses, etc. The detailed parts of the map are created with models built in XSI. In general, models are more detailed than brushes but since they don’t provide visibility blocking, you can’t use models everywhere.