We Are The Lambda Generation. LambdaGeneration is a website dedicated to the video game Half-Life. ( We're basically really passionate about crowbars, headcrabs and anyone who has goatee with a PhD in theoretical physics… )

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Vic

Vic

Articles by Vic

“See You When I See You…”

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It’s been 2 and a half years, my friends. 2 and a half years since we first put LambdaGeneration on the map and brought you a new home for all your Valve community news and media. We’ve reported on many of the past years’ most significant events, releases and creations. Though it’s more than a little disappointing that I won’t be able to discuss the… eventual announcement and eventual release of Half-Life 3 with you all, the news will make the rounds all over the web, and I think we’ll all be able to make up our minds on our own about what Valve has to offer.

This applies for all of their upcoming projects too, including the rather shocking possibility of a Left 4 Dead 3 on the horizon. In any case, for yours truly, Vic, lead editor of LambdaGen, it’s time for me to pass the torch (well, if there’s anyone to pass it to), as far as running the show here on the main page as head writerman. I wish I didn’t have to leave on a lingering note of inactivity, but some finality was the least I could offer.

“MINERVA: Metastasis” Finally Polished Up, Re-Metastasized And Re-Released For Free Via Steamworks

Half-Life

The year was 2005 (you know it’s gotten bad when even 2005 has a quaint and nostalgic ring to it), and the first episode of a little Half-Life 2 mod series charmingly titled MINERVA: Metastasis was released. Metastasis itself only represented the first chapter in a planned MINERVA trilogy (the next chapter, Out of Time, never materialized, though creator Adam Foster isn’t afraid to hint at a possible return in the future), and it was a sequel to Foster’s earlier Half-Life 1 release, Someplace Else. Through exceptional level design, an intriguing narrative and remarkably well-paced gameplay, MINERVA was universally acclaimed and praised not just within the Half-Life community, but all around the greater gaming world.

The Metastasis “trilogy within a trilogy” concluded with the release of the last two episodes in October of 2007, and a year later, Foster began working at Valve, on a strange little game we used to call Half-Life 2: Episode Three. Since then, he’s done significant design work on Portal 2 (and god knows what that means about the aforementioned title), and presumably neglected little old MINERVA, which like many other HL2 mods, did not survive Valve’s May 2010 update for Mac support. Neglected, that is… until now!

“The Freeman Chronicles” – The Fanmade Half-Life Miniseries That Needs Your Help To Get Off The Ground

Half-Life

We’ve seen a lot of amazing fanmade Half-Life live-action films in the community over the years, but for the most part, these have been shorter, smaller creations developed on budgets ranging from “tiny” to “zero”. And while they mostly hit all the right notes even with these minimal resources, one just can’t help but wonder… what if a few of the community’s biggest and bestest filmmakers decided to aim higher than the rest–namely, by putting together a more sizeable budget–offering the fans a more substantial fanfilm than we’ve ever seen before?

Well, it seems the wheels are finally turning on a non-profit, fan-funded Half-Life webseries that might just give us what we’ve been clamoring for: 40 minutes of Gordon Freeman, fighting aliens and spec-ops soldiers on the surface of the Black Mesa complex! And no sword fights.

Valve Loses Business Director And Reportedly Lays Off Over A Dozen Developers In “Great Cleansing”

Valve

UPDATE: Gabe Newell has released a statement responding to these reports (Engadget and Forbes were among those to receive a response):

We don’t usually talk about personnel matters for a number of reasons. There seems to be an unusual amount of speculation about some recent changes here, so I thought I’d take the unusual step of addressing them.

No, we aren’t cancelling any projects. No, we aren’t changing any priorities or projects we’ve been discussing. No, this isn’t about Steam or Linux or hardware or [insert game name here]. We’re not going to discuss why anyone in particular is or isn’t working here.”

And that’s it. It’s a reassuring response, but it all but confirms that the reported layoffs have, in fact, taken place after all.

Valve has one of the highest employee retention rates in the entire video game industry – and just a few years ago, their Jobs page touted a 98% retention rate. But though we haven’t really heard of any significant layoffs from the company, ever since its inception, that doesn’t mean they don’t fire people at all. In fact, according to Gabe Newell (in his first talk at the LBJ School of Public Affairs in Austin), due to Valve’s inherently flat structure and hierarchy, they have to be really aggressive about firing people, and he adds that they haven’t done a very good job with interims or new employees.

But again, we’ve never really seen that process in action. Well, until now.

In Less Than Two Days, 9 Of Team Fortress 2’s Oldest Hats Will Be Permanently Retired

Team Fortress

Way back in May of 2009, Valve introduced Team Fortress players to the Sniper vs. Spy Update, which at the time was TF2’s most ambitious game update yet – providing both the Sniper and Spy classes with three significant new weapons each, as well as several new maps, alongside a brand new gamemode. But this update brought us something else, something which would leave a lasting impact not only on TF2 itself, but on all of Valve’s future work, as a whole… hats.

Yes, the Sniper vs. Spy Update was when TF2 got its 9 first rare cosmetic headgear items – one for each playable class. Since then, Valve (alongside numerous item designers from the Team Fortress community) have added 259 more hats to TF2- and so, by now, most people have forgotten about those 9 original hats… which makes it all the more interesting that Valve has actually decided to permanently retire them from the game’s item circuit.

Half-Life Alpha Dating From September 1997, Finds Its Way Online After 15 Years

Half-Life

The original Half-Life was first announced in early 1997, initially set for that year’s holiday season. But one very impressive E3 1997 showing later, and suddenly Half-Life was on everyone’s radar – expectations were ramping up, and suddenly, Valve were in the center of the gaming world’s attention. And so, later that year, close to their projected release date, Valve decided that a delay was in order. Once they’d attained it, a lot of the pressure was off, and the team at Valve spent began to intensely evaluate every aspect of the game, and all of the content they had created in one year of development.

And while there had been a considerable amount of progress, and the game itself was in very good shape, it just seemed like there was something missing – as Valve engineer Ken Birdwell stated in The Final Hours of Half-Life, the game simply wouldn’t have gone “over the edge anywhere“. To Valve, it seemed like Half-Life could be a lot more revolutionary and a lot more groundbreaking. Thus, in late 1997, an entire game’s worth of content and design was completely scrapped, and Half-Life underwent a complete redesign, fully from the ground up.

What gamers eventually got one year later in November of 1998, amounts to an entirely new game (in fact, according to Ken Birdwell, it really is a Half-Life 2 of sorts). But what happened to the Half-Life that never was – the “Half-Life 0” that Valve unceremoniously threw out the door?

Valve And Xi3 Corporation Reveal Steam-Centric Modular Mini-PC, Designed For The Living Room

Valve

UPDATE: Remarkably, it appears Polygon has some exclusive details on this Steam-centric mini-PC that Xi3 is working, on alongside Valve.

Dubbed “Piston” (see what they did there?), it will be based on Xi3’s high-end, performance-level X7A model. In addition, TIME and Eurogamer have more information on the Piston, straight from CES 2013.

Generally, a computer is pretty big. Which is why Valve’s great big master plan to get us to move our computers all the way into the living room, and somehow connect them to our TVs might not have made much sense, at first glance. But as we all know, Valve has an active hardware lab, with the immediate design goal of making Steam games more fun to play in the living room.

And as Gabe Newell himself has confirmed, Valve are in fact developing their own unique “living room PC“, alongside other hardware companies. And according to Gabe, we can expect to start seeing these little PCs in stores, some time later this year. In fact, just a few days ago, it was reported that Valve hardware engineer Ben Krasnow had confirmed, at the EHSM 2012 conference in Berlin, that Valve’s hardware lab would be releasing a few of its currently secret projects, in the course of 2013.

Could that include this mythical “living room PC” that some call the Steam Box? More importantly, will anyone please come up with a better name than that? How about… Steam Engine? Well, in any case, one great big announcement has finally emerged from this sea of uncertainty! And it’s a very big announcement, for a surprisingly tiny piece of hardware. Read on!

Happy Holidays From LambdaGeneration!

Other

We here at LambdaGeneration would like to wish you season’s greetings, and very happy holidays! Best wishes, tidings of joy, peace on Earth… and maybe a copy of Half-Life 3.

Which reminds me – what would Christmas be without a celebratory LambdaGeneration Christmas short? Did you answer “probably just Christmas“? Then you’d probably be right. Except we won’t let it be just Christmas! So like we did last year, we have concocted a heart-warming holiday special for that express purpose. It’s animated and directed by our very own Jeff – if you’re interested in seeing some more of his work, hit up his production blog on Tumblr.

Enough with all the words! Let’s take a look, shall we?

Don’t forget to check out our retrospective look at the events of December 2011, when a single T-shirt drove us all mad.

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