Half-Life 2 made news earlier this week when a post by Gabe Newell popped up on a fansite forum proclaiming, "We're going gold Monday." This caused quite a surge of excitement until it was revealed that the post was actually made by a hacker who gained access to Gabe's account by guessing his password, which was reportedly "gaben". To borrow a phrase from Dave Barry, I swear I am not making this up. Valve software remained tight-lipped about the incident as expected, sparking the curiosity of many gamers who have been patiently waiting for Half-Life 2's release. How much longer will it be until the game really goes gold? What's taken Valve so long, and of course, how has the game changed since we saw it last? Without any contacts in Valve, I've been just as curious and clueless as you. Imagine my surprise, then, when I received an e-mail this morning containing every internal memo from Valve's mailing list from the past year.

The sender (a hacker who wished to go by the initials J.K.) claimed that he mailed me the memos in the hopes that the public would "see hwo great Half Lift 2 will be and SHUTS UP abuot it takeing so long.!" Being one of the internet's most respected and admired gaming journalists, I was facing a dilemma. The memos had some incredibly juicy information, but publishing them would go against practically every moral code I adhere to. In the end, Valve's secrecy prompted me to run the memos. The public has the right to know how the game is really coming along, and if Valve won't tell the truth then the only man who can is me. All last names have been removed to protect the fact that I don't actually know anyone's last name.

8/30/04
From:
Gabe
Topic:
Password Theft

What an embarrassing fiasco this whole thing has been. Our security guys are pretty ticked off about my password choice and have recommended that we change our passwords system wide just to be safe. After thinking about it for a while, I realized how much of a mistake it was to use personal information and that it'd be best to go with something dry and alphanumeric instead. I'm changing mine to 1234, and I suggest everyone does the same.

Is this the face of modern science? Something tells me OOH YEAH.

4/14/04
From:
Chris (Sound Engineer)
Topic:
Gordon's voice

Last time around, we kept Gordon silent throughout the entirety of the game. It helped gamers immerse themselves and feel like they were the protagonist, but let's be realistic: most people who play video games are weak and wholly uninteresting. Would you rather see some schlub in an oversized Atari shirt save the world, or a tough-talking badass? This week we brought in professional wrestler Macho Man Randy Savage to give Gordon some spunk, and I think the gamers will really identify with what he brought to the role. He got so into character that he didn't even use the script, electing to improvise lines like these:

"I'm here to crowbar headcrabs and conduct scientific experiments... and I'm all outta science!"

"Buddy, if you ask me you're fission for a beatdown."

"Half-Life? I'm gonna shoot you til you have No-Life! OOOH YEAH!"

12/2/03
From:
Gabe
Topic:
Updated Feature List

Today I've made the difficult choice to forego our physics system in favor of a more robust colored lighting engine. Gamers were pretty excited about the tremendous physics we were promising, but that shit was hard. Coding objects to go straight up is real easy, but then you have to make them come back down. We were having all sorts of problems with that: pencils stuck in ceilings, disoriented zombies, etc. The whole concept was pretty gimmicky anyway. I mean, who really uses physics and gravity in day-to-day life?

Focusing on colored lighting will have many more practical benefits than physics ever could. Imagine how much easier it will now be to tell the difference between the expansive sewer level (now hot pink) and the vastly different Xen sewer level (puke green).

Gamers will definitely be shocked when they finally get to install the game and find the physics are gone... awesome-shocked!

3/28/03
From:
Ryan (story team)
Topic:
The Game's Finale

Our decision to bring in some screenwriters to "Hollywood the game up" and make it more satisfying is really paying off. In fact, we've just approved the final script for the game's ending sequence. After playing through the entire adventure and finally reaching the mysterious man in black, the player will be presented with a FMV of this, the final confrontation:

Gordon and the man in black wordlessly engage in fast and frenetic kung-fu action with plenty of wall flips and Matrix-style slowdowns while Saliva's "Click Click Boom" plays. The man in black gains the upper hand and knocks Gordon down on the ground, then reaches into his briefcase and pulls out a handgun. Pointing it at Gordon and laughing maniacally, he pulls the hammer back and begins to squeeze the trigger. A gunshot goes off. The man in black continues to laugh, then slumps over, revealing Gordon's companion Alyx (modeled after Halle Berry and voiced by Mark Hamill) who was standing behind him. She blows the smoke out of her own gun seductively, then kneels down to Gordon and kisses him.

Gordon: Sugarplum, I thought you went for help when those headcrabs ambushed our pudding-

Alyx: I'm all the help you'll ever need, Gordy. Besides, I couldn't bear the thought of spending even... half a life without you.

Gordon closes his eyes as she kisses him again, then opens them and finds himself alone on the monorail from the opening of the original Half-Life. He rubs his eyes disbelievingly. It was all just a dream.

Wow! It certainly looks like the game will be... something. For some reason, J.K. also sent me an internal memo from 3D Realms. It doesn't really fit in well with the rest of today's article, but I found it fascinating nonetheless.

9/03/04
From:
George Broussard
Subject: new engine!

There's a Swedish team working on a next-gen engine that features some really advanced fish geometry (freshwater, they say it will be a few years until the technology is there to properly do saltwater). I'm thinking we should probably wait and switch DNF over to that whenever it comes out.

Also, our new texture artist asked what Duke's hair color is and I completely drew a blank. Any help from the concept art team?

State Og

This week's State Og update is so good it's guaranteed to either get you laid or get me in trouble with our lawyers for making false guarantees again.

And now for the ultimate patent: I have managed to accidentally do some actual patent research while searching for a certain type of niche pornography. The end result is that I have patented the US patent system. State Og now owns the rights to all procedures and processes of the US patent office, as well as all powers given to it by law. That means that we now have the power to patent things that the US patent office normally would not allow to be patented, such as: water, light, and pictures of coral snakes.

Check out this week's update!

– Dennis "Corin Tucker's Stalker" Farrell

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