Where Was I, Anyway?

Well, here’s a hint:

For those of you not up on these things, that’s a headcrab, featured in the games Half-Life and Half-Life 2, by the video game company Valve Software, which I visited on my trip.

What did I see there? I can’t tell you (I signed an NDA).

What did I do there? I can’t tell you (see above).

Did I have a good time? Oh, yeah.

Should you, as a video game fan, be immensely, immensely jealous? See above.

I can say this: If you’re a gamer, I think you’re going to like what’s coming down the pike from Valve. Even the stuff I saw in rough form was very cool.  I can also say that the folks at Valve were all very smart, very talented and building really interesting stuff. As I said, when you see it (eventually), you’ll probably agree.

In all, a very nice tour of the chocolate factory, if you know what I mean. I’m glad I went.

34 Comments on “Where Was I, Anyway?”

  1. The way that her eyes are crossed makes that picture even better! Has this headcrab been debeaked just like Lamarr was in HL2?

    Oh, and does the “something” you saw at Valve rhyme at all with “Naff Wife Webisode Free”? ;)

  2. Bob Portnell – Sparks, NV USA – In no particular order: Husband, parent, child of God, technical writer, stargazer, gamer, and in no particular order.
    Bob Portnell

    The completely crossed eyes are a nice touch. Kudos to the arthropodally enhanced model.

  3. Sweet! I used to work for EA, and would sometimes run into the guys from Valve at E3 and various other trade shows. They are gamers all the way to the top in that company (no clueless management or marketing weasels). Much like the folks at Blizzard, they do as they please, ignore what the rest of the market is doing, and ship great product.

    Portal was such a breath of fresh air in my humble opinion, and possibly one of the best games I have played in the last 5 years.

  4. And Krissy has either a look of benign amusement at the antics, or a WTF is going on. Makes the picture even better. And it looks like Kodi just couldn’t care.

  5. # Steve Buchheiton 30 Mar 2008 at 5:18 pm

    And Krissy has either a look of benign amusement at the antics, or a WTF is going on. Makes the picture even better. And it looks like Kodi just couldn’t care.

    I think Krissy is trying to calculate the cost of therapy.

  6. Have you read Concerned: the Half-Life and Death of Gordon Frohman? It’s a very entertaining webcomic based on Half-Life 2. (If it were animated, I could call it machinima, but it’s not…) I’ve never actually played the game, but the humor is good enough that it doesn’t need that amount of context.

  7. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang in pain

    Dag you. Dag you to heck!

    Sounds cool. I’d like an OMW video game. PLease make sure it comes out on the PS3? Danke!

  8. You couldn’t get your hands on any companion cubes while you were there? You saw Portal 2, didn’t you?


    Man, let her carry the axe in the christmas picture, drench her in ketchup and let her walk around with the headcrab. She’ll be extremely fun at family gatherings. :)

  9. #10 Don,

    Since we know so little about normal headcrab psychology it is to be expected we’re going to know even less about their abnormal psychology. Which means effective treatment of a specimen after contact with the mind of a nine year old is going to be expensive.

  10. Really, Krissy in the background makes the whole picture. I’ve never met her, but I recognize the amused “I can’t believe the ridiculous things you do for the Internet” look– I get it from Kate pretty regularly…

  11. I think Krissy is actually a bit concerned that it might be, well, a louse. And she’s wondering where one gets a comb that’ll work on nits that large.

    Athena is really going to regret this in college during her freshman year, when some {jealous girl | stalker} dredges this up, prints it, then wallpapers her dorm room with the connivance of her roommate. Especially if she ends up at that institution on the south side of Chicago.

  12. I invited John to Valve because he has some big fans here, and we thought it would be cool to give him a peek behind the scenes at a place where we live out a science fictional existence. Twas fun. John signed an NDA but I didn’t, so I can tell you he saw just about everything we’re working on right now. Why should my head be the only one perpetually about to explode?

    That headcrab looks good on your daughter, John!

  13. MikhailBorg – Chesapeake, Virginia – Professional Macintosh geek. Amateur weirdo. http://mikailborg.livejournal.com

    I wish I could get excited about the upcoming Valve game. But, as much as I would like to play HL 2 and Portal, I’m on the -wrong- computer, and Gabe Newell has let us all know that it’s just -too hard- to develop for that OS as well.

    Unless, of course, you’re Blizzard, who apparently signed deals with demons or something in exchange for the ability to do simultaneous releases of every single game.

    I know, I’m whining. Great photo, though “Cake or Death” is still the blue-ribbon winner :)

  14. Valve, to my knowledge, has never made anything that sucked. In fact, I believe they’ve never gone below “actually quite good” on the game excellence scale.

    Meesa super jealous! That must have been a fun visit!

  15. Does your NDA prohibit you from identifying the poster on the wall in the background of the picture? ‘Cause I can’t work out which film it’s for and it’s killing me now.

  16. Hey John,

    Great picture of Athena – you can tell her I said she’s the scariest Headcrab zombie ever. (The crossed eyes are classic!) And I’m immensely jealous that you got to go and view all the goodies early. I’m a big fan of the Half Life series.

    Interestingly enough, your picture of her brought to mind the fact that there are no ‘child’ headcrab zombies in HL 2. Which seems odd now that I think about it since the story line includes urban areas infested with Headcrabs. Frankly if you talk with Mark Laidlaw again you should mention that absence. Headcrab zombie children would definitely add to the ‘creepy factor’ immensely. Headcrab zombie children – they’re here for your bwains! (And the car-keys plus some date money too.)

  17. Thanks, John. Not a film I’ve seen before, but I love old movie posters (and old movies, natch), which is why it caught my eye.

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