June 28, 2006

Valve publishes statistics from players of Half Life 2: Episode 1, collated using Steam. Warning - contains Half Life 2: Episode 1 spoilers, although you probably guessed that.

This raises questions, of course, about how Valve use the data they obtain through Steam, especially in light of yet another spyware controversy. It was no less a luminary than Monkeyfilter itself which played host to suggestions that the Steam system treated customers like criminals. Is it now placing them under surveilance? Will the next logical step be dawn raids on particularly inept n00bs? That aside, there is some interesting info in here. Apparently completion rates are lowered by people who restart without getting through the credits sequence, but have only 47% of players really persevered through the admittedly highly repetitive tour-guiding episode of "Exit 17"? Unfortunately, it did not collect some of the statistics I want to read. Like how many times are players zooming in on Alyx Vance's face while singing "To Love Somebody" by the Bee Gees? How many times does the average player hit a downed drophip with a crowbar to make its limbs jiggle before it stops being cool? How loud did microphones record cries of "No, Barney, let's not do that. Let's all run across in a single heavily-armed group, before the Combine can bring in reinforcements. You multitool". How many times has a zombie been set aflame just to try to work out what it's screaming? How much treacherous speculation has been entertained as to whether Roberts Culp and Guillaume will stay hale and hearty long enough to record voices for all three episodes? All these and more... So, how far up the obsession curve are you (I'm a bit disturbed to find myself not just in the upper quartile but the upper sesqupidile, or something to that effect)? What statistics would you like to see measured? And, most importantly, are you one of the crazy people playing it with DirectX 7?

  • There's a new Half-Life out?? Huh.
  • Oh. Sorry. Has this already been done? I did search and everything...
  • Like how many times are players zooming in on Alyx Vance's face while singing "To Love Somebody" by the Bee Gees? At least once. /embarrassed Okay, I've never played Half-Life. But now I want to.
  • I'll admit to learning spawn codes (specifically for zombies) just to set them ablaze. Or spawning some reinforcements on your own side, only to E them and make them talk. "When this is all over, I'm gonna mate." "Don't remind me." Obsession curve, eh. Well, I AM on the back side of it right now, but once I get this new chapter, I should be right back up there. And I really don't care about Valve grabbing usage stats. Duh. It's the intarweb. Any player who doesn't realize that if you connect to Steam before you launch the game Heloooo....Valve is watching you should think twice. I, personally, think Valve reads this data to improve gameplay. Let's face it: if we all set the difficulty level to Medium, we can make some nice assumptions about what the Easy or Hard levels should be. I'm all for that. Obsession...what? huh? Oh, where was I......yeah.
  • Valve has done this before, and if I'm not mistaken, contributing data that Steam collects is voluntary. That said, relatively few of us in the gaming community like Steam, much less the way Valve conducts buisness.
  • Alyx is based on Merle Dandridge. So if you need an Alyx fix, but don't want to launch the game, this would be the place. (SFW)
  • Voiced by rather than based on, I ween. Although I could still be recovering from the shock of discovering that Buttercup was voiced by... a hippy. There's a great article linked to from Dandridge's site, for its sheer Hollywood myopia: But, ironically, one of the most expensive games in recent history -- "Half-Life 2" -- with a production budget of more than $40 million -- went out of its way not to hype the name talent that lent its voices to the biggest PC game of 2004. Included in the cast are Lou Gossett, Jr., Robert Guillaume, and Robert Culp -- but there's no indication of that on the game box, on the official Web site, or even in the marketing assets or advertising. I like the assumption that it was a huge risk not to mention that the most impatiently awaited game of all time featured the voice talents of That Guy who Was in Stargate, That Guy who was in That Thing with Cosby before I was Born, and of course That Guy who was in That Other Thing with That Guy who was in Six Feet Under. Bless. I'm torn on Valve and Steam. I don't love the need for an Internet connection, or for verification, or having to play the game through their portal. On the other hand, it does provide a way for small games creators with innovative products (like Darwinia) to make their games available to large audiences with a download and delivery mechanism handled by a third party.
  • I see that valve has released a game that 99% of people complete in under 10 hours. And many under 3. Think I'll pass. Thanks for the info, Valve.
  • Zoom in on her face? It's all about the t'n'a, that's all I'm saying. And yes, it is a game completed in less than 10 hours. For the very reasonable price of $19.99. It's not meant to be a fully new Half-Life Game, it's an episode.
  • Agreed. I suspect that the 10 hours will be people going through on their second run, stopping and looking at everything, finding new ways to use objects and listening to the makers' commentary, which is very interesting indeed. You couldn't stretch out a straight linear run to ten hours unless you were doing the entire thing in bullet time. I probably paid about (performs lightning calculation) $54 for the first Half Life 2, and the $60 for the three episodes that will make up, in effect, Half Life 3 seems like a pretty good deal, as Valve will be able to make use of the latest advances in technology. Apparently, HL2:E2 will be longer and less linear, and will feature a different environment from City 17. However, as Martijn points out, this may all be ashes in the mouth if Alyx climbs less scaffolding. A computer game hasn't made me feel like such a wrong'un since Blade Runner.