Randy Pitchford
Gearbox Software | Programmer | Nov 1, 1999, 01:36:52 (ET) | randyp@gearboxsoftware.com
Login: randyp Name: Randy Pitchford

Half-Life: Opposing Force


The Frag 3 was a great. Attendance was high and things seemed to run
very smoothly. I'm very excited about the future of professional gaming.
Although it may be considered a let down to the patriotic in the U.S. that
someone from across the lake managed to take the purse, I think it's very
exciting for the future of competition in our growing sport. There's sure
to be some nationalistic interest in "re-claiming" the first place spot at
next year's Frag tourney.

Check out the Adrenaline Vault's coverage here:
There is also coverage of the OpFor demo and new screenshots there as well.

The OpFor demo went very well. It was *really* nice to get sincere applause
from the audience throughout the demonstration of Half-Life: Opposing Force.
There's quite a bit to be excited about in the game and I'm really looking
forward to the rest of the world getting a chance to play it.

In case you haven't had a look, you may download the OpFor trailer that
premiered at the Frag3 here:

The trailer shows off a lot of varied content from the game including
several new weapons, squad combat, the medic class, Black Ops assassins
and more. It gives a great taste of what's to come at the Black Mesa
Research Facility in OpFor and has been received very well.

In any case, it won't be long now before the completed game is in your
hands. Half-Life: Opposing Force is coming!


R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms

- Try not to sweat the little things. Spending half a day arguing over
the color of a character's eyes is counterproductive. Such things rarely
affect fun, sales, or the overall response to the product.


This weekend is the Frag 3 and Gearbox will be premiering the Half-Life:
Opposing Force trailer on the floor of the event on Saturday evening.

We'll also be showing a demo of the game there and Gearbox developers will
be available to answer questions in a Q&A session. Sierra's sent down a
ton of OpFor posters so I'll make sure we show up with pens if anyone wants
to get signatures from the team. We don't do this sort of thing very
often, so if you're a collector of game memorabilia, this will be a rare

Also, if you're a member of the press and are going to be at the Frag 3,
please introduce yourself and I'll make sure you get a copy of the OpFor
demo sent your way. We've worked very hard to make OpFor an experience
that all Half-Life fans will love and are eager to show it off.

See you there!


R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms

- Assume there will be staff changes during a project. Think about how
a project can adapt if any given member of the team goes away.


I've gotten a few e-mails about the "167 screenshots of OpFor" nonsense that
was posted on GameSpot UK earlier this week. I think they were overcome with
Half-Life fever ("It's driving me crazy... I'm going out of my mind"). Ugh.

I didn't bother to look at all 167 of them, but it looks as though the shots
were all captured from some sort of video. There are some really cool ones
in there, but what a pain finding them!

I'm not going to post the link here, but if someone has the patience to go
through the shots to find and re-post the few "good" ones, that would
probably be useful to the growing community of Half-Life fans patiently
awaiting the release of H/L: Opposing Force. You have my full permission to
repost the dozen or so shots from the pile that really stand out. Those
shots aren't "owned" by GameSpot UK :)

The good news is that soon the entire game will be in your hands. OpFor
is very close to being completed. And, very, VERY soon much more
information, shots and other materials about OpFor will be released in a
number of different places. Some of this stuff is very cool. Of course,
I shouldn't talk about it yet...


Also: Apologies to Blue for my last .plan update and /.'s link borking his
finger tracker. I'll keep myself from being so colorful in a .plan next
time and maybe less people will hit it ;)

R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Team Work:

- Remember that it's to the point where you probably cannot build the
"AAA" game alone. Learning how to successfully interact with your team
is often more important than any individual person's creative talent.


This is something I don't like to do in a .plan update, but I couldn't
just ignore this one...

In the November '99 issue of Family PC (Ziff/Davis) on page 121 there's
a sidebar titled "Buyer Beware". This article once again makes a case
against the sales of the type of games that our community is built around.

Here's the quote which really disturbs me:

> Family PC (Ziff/Davis), Nov. '99, Page 121
> CompUSA
> As soon as we arrived in the games section, Half Life: Opposing Forces
> [sic] (Sierra Studios, www.sierrastudios.com) hit us square in the jaw.
> This shoot-em-up war game received an M rating from the Entertainment
> Software Rating Board (www.esrb.com), meaning that it's designed for
> ages 17 and older. With cash in hand, Tricia walked up to the checkout
> line and bought the software--no questions asked. In fact, the only glitch
> in her purchase came when the cash register needed a new roll of receipt
> tape. Later, at the Customer Service desk, we played the role of
> incredulous parent and complained that nobody questioned Tricia's purchase.

What I'd like to know is this: How did "Tricia" purchase a copy of our
game (Half-Life: Opposing Force) when it isn't even on the shelves yet?

It's must be an invention of Family PC magazine - an invention designed
to make a negative association with the games we love and to point the
finger at the business of entertainment software design and sales.

The article goes on to jab at Xatrix Entertainment, Software Etc,
Beyond.com and the South Park game after which it appeals to "Mr. President"
for "another press conference." Presumably the objective of the writer
is to influence public policy in ways potentially bad for our industry.

Does anyone know how the law protects a company like Gearbox Software
from the press making such an injurious fabrication with malicious intent?
I am very bothered that something like this can appear in a high-volume
magazine like Family PC from a huge publisher like Ziff/Davis.

I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has some legal experience
with this sort of thing. Could this be considered libelous?

I would also be interested in hearing from someone with CompUSA on how
they might react to this since their sales methods are the primary
target of this article's attack.


R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms

- Don't automatically shun something just because it's easy. Purists in
this business are only hurting themselves. If a cheap tool or hack trick
gets the job done, the job is still done and end users will often be
just as satisfied with the end result.


Gearbox is within days (hours?) of "Release Candidate 1" for Half-Life:
Opposing Force. But, that's not the cool news. The cool news is that
Brian's been working with the Sierra marketing and art dudes on a Corporal
Adrian Shephard stand-up/cut-out display for the stores.

It's planned to have an animated Pipe Wrench that he brandishes... The
whole thing is supposed to run off of solar power. It sounds very cool.

I'm going to try to get a dozen of them or so to set up in the hallway to
disturb the neighbors in the building (we're going to need their office
space soon ). If you're a vendor who's going to get one for your OpFor
sales display, don't promise it out to your cousin, I'll buy the damn
thing from ya!

But, in the mean time, since OpFor is very close to being released and it's
turning out to be such a highly anticipated title you might be intereted in
pre-ordering your copy now.

You can do this here:



R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms

- Things usually take about twice as long as you think they should. Expect
this and plan for it and you'll be okay.


GDC (Game Developers Conference) Road Trips is coming to Austin, TX next
month. All developers nearby should make a point of attending this year
as there are a number of great speakers including folks from id Software,
Origin, Ensemble, Looking Glass and more.

These events are typically a lot of fun. I remember the first GDC road
trips in Austin when Ritual chartered a bus where I joined some of the old
RBR crew and a bunch of the other Dallas game developers to ride down to
see our captain, Billy Zelsnack, speak about the unique stuff he was doing
with Java in the Prax War engine. I met a bunch of notable developers for
the first time during that trip.

Road Trips are often used by speakers to test out new material that later
makes its way into GD Mag. or technical papers and/or books... It's a
good chance to learn tricks and things leading game developers are playing
with that hasn't been shared yet.

More information can be found at:


If you register within the next few days, it's only $90. See you there!



I've received some e-mail asking about the winners of the recent TFC
level design contest hosted by WON.NET, the winners of which will have
their maps featured on the Half-Life: Opposing Force CD.

We received the entry maps a few weeks ago and have played them quite
a bit before picking the winners. We wanted to make sure we gave every
map the attention it deserved. There are some GREAT Team Fortress Classic
maps among them and I'm proud to include the winning maps with our game.

So, we would like to let you know that the winners are being chosen by
Gearbox and Valve and that an announcement will be coming very soon.

Thanks for your patience, and thanks for the great maps!



A couple of days ago, a good article about Half-Life: Opposing Force
was posted here:


I noticed that not many of the news pages reported this one, yet it
is significant because this is the first published preview of OpFor
where the writer actually had a playable version of the game to report on.

Check it out... There's lots of good info and tons of new exclusive
screen shots.

Best quote: "This year, I think I'll be heading back to Black Mesa at
least one more time." -Jason Samuel, Game Pro World

Thanks Jason!



Today Gearbox and Sierra studios have announced four more of the all-star
level designers for the multiplayer portion of Half-Life: Opposing Force.

I'm sure you'll agree that these designers represent some of the best talent
in the business and I'm looking forward to deathmatching in their maps as
much as Half-Life fans are.

Check out the full press release below...

I personally have a great deal of respect for each designer we've invited
to be part of the All-Star group and suspect that the action gaming
community feels the same way. Only a title like Half-Life could gather as
many accomplished level makers like this together for the OpFor multiplayer
game. Even though this rare collection of designers alone is enough to make
OpFor a collectors item, I'm going to try to get all of the "All Stars" to
sign my copy after we go gold. What do you think I could get for that
on E-Bay? I know it's no kidney, but... Hey! look... Levelord!

I would like to point out that there will be more announcements soon
describing the last group of all-stars and the winners of the Team Fortress
Classic level design contest who's maps will be included with Half-Life:
Opposing Force.

In fact, we're going to start playing the TFC entries next week to choose
a winner. I can't wait!


Bellevue, WA (September 10, 1999) - Sierra Studios, Gearbox Software and
Valve are proud to announce four additional members of the industry
"All-Star" team designing the multiplayer portion of the upcoming PC
title, Half-Life(tm): Opposing Force(tm), the entirely new episode for
the Game of the Year.

The four veteran designers announced today are: Richard "Zdim" Carlson,
David "Kevlar" Kelvin, Marin "Kandyman" Gazzari, and Eric Reuter. They
join the team along with Richard "Levelord(tm)" Gray, who announced his
participation earlier this summer.

"Gearbox is obviously very excited to be working with such an amazing
team of talented designers on Op For," says Randy Pitchford, co-founder
and lead game designer at Gearbox. "It also adds a degree of suspense as
we are waiting just as anxiously as everyone else to see what kind of
amazing maps they put together for us to play."

About the All-Stars:

Richard "Zdim" Carlson
Growing from being one of the most respected amateur designers of the
Doom and Heretic era, Carlson defined unique black and white sections of
Ion Storm's upcoming epic RPG Anachronox. He then contributed to John
Romero's Daikatana before making the move to Looking Glass Studios where
he is a pivotal designer for the upcoming Thief 2.

David "Kevlar" Kelvin
Aside from being a very visible member of the early 3D level design
community, Kelvin was a member of Team Evolve creating several missions
for the Quake II Zaero pack. He spent a short time at Monolith contributing
maps for Blood II and Shogo before joining Legend Entertainment where
he has shipped Unreal: Return to NaPali and is currently working on
Wheel of Time.

Marin "Kandyman" Gazzari
Austrian Marin Gazzari is probably the most respected deathmatch level
designer of the era. His simple yet perfectly flowing designs have been
the setting for countless tournament and clan matches. Although he is
probably best known for his work with Quake's ZerStoerer pack, his "kndy"
series of deathmatch maps are among the most played maps ever created.

Eric Reuter
One of the most accomplished designers of the Opposing Force "All Stars,"
Eric is currently the lead level builder of Unreal PlayStation which will
offer a completely new single player episode. Eric was a designer with
the original Unreal team after working with 3dRealms on Shadow Warrior.
Eric became a professional designer after his early level work for Doom
found its way into the SAM'S published books "Tricks of the Doom Programming
Gurus" and "3D Game Alchemy."

Half-Life: Opposing Force (a.k.a. Op For) will feature over one dozen new
multiplayer levels created by 3-D action industry All Stars. Op For also
features an expansive new single player episode were players return to
the Black Mesa Research Facility from the exciting new perspective of a
soldier to eliminate a new breed of fierce aliens. The title, which is
being developed by Gearbox Software, is on schedule to ship this fall.


Gearbox is Hiring!

We're looking for someone to hammer at the game during our completion
phase to help make sure Half-Life: Opposing Force is the best it can be.
This is a little more than a testing position because development tools
will be used, but less than a developer position because very little new,
creative work will be possible at this stage. This could turn into a full
time developer position at Gearbox, depending on the successful applicant.

The job description below is taken from www.gearboxsoftware.com

+Level Designer Intern

Learn what's involved in shipping a top title from the inside as you work
with our experienced staff of level designers to fine tune Half-Life:
Opposing Force. This is a unique opportunity to get involved in the game
making process on one of the most anticipated titles of the year - even if
you have little or no experience.

What we're looking for:
- Must live somewhere in the Dallas, TX metroplex
- Must be 18 years of age or older
- Must have reliable transportation to our offices
- Must have played Half-Life and enjoyed it
- Must be reasonably intelligent and a quick learner
- Must be available to work part time between Sept. 13 and Oct. 15
- Some exposure to Worldcraft helpful

What you'll get:
- Training with Worldcraft to perform duties listed below
- Hourly $ Compensation
- Mention in the Half-Life: Opposing Force credits
- A signed copy of the final game

What you'll do:
- Work part time at Gearbox Software's office for five weeks
- Testing and bug reporting of Half-Life: Opposing Force
- Place ambient sound effects in game levels
- Identify (and assist in the correction of) level transition errors
- Apply consistant, generic special effects in levels
- Random texture alignment throughout the game

If you'd like to take advantage of this opportunity, apply by e-mailing:
jobs@gearboxsoftware.com. Include your name, age, location, and a short
description of why you want and deserve this job.

Successful applicant may be considered for full time employement with
Gearbox Software.



Anyone we know going to ECTS next month?

Art Director, Brian Martel drew the short straw this time so he's going to
have to be our man in London doing the demo of Half-Life: Opposing Force
for all the hungry Euro press.

If you're going and know about any of the cool parties, let me know so
we can throw him a bone :)



Wow. I feel honored that the PC Paradox dudes felt to include Opposing
Force in their poll of the top upcoming action games.


I'm even more amazed that OpFor seems to be getting the votes! I mean, I
know we're building an awesome game here, it's just cool to see that the
public sees that too.

It's funny how polls like this seem to get the competive urge rolling and
all the developers go vote for their own games.

Obviously the more honest votes this thing gets, the more useful it will be.
I'm not saying that some groups of people are screwing up the results, but
I will go out on a limb and suggest that there's no f'n way that Monolith's
"Sanity" is more highly anticipated at this point than "Unreal Tournament."

So, go vote for whatever game you're looking forward to most this season.

Also, don't just vote for Half-Life: Opposing Force because I made this
post... Vote for OpFor if it honestly is a game you're looking forward to.



Next Generation On-line ran a preview of Opposing Force yesterday here:


There's a bunch of new screenshots included with the article that show off
lots of new stuff, so check it out.

The preview ends with: "Opposing Force will be the mother of all expansions."

Thanks, Next Generation On-Line!



When you haven't recorded voices for a new alien in your game but want
place holder stuff, I highly recommend using sound bytes of Greedo.

Because of creative coder, John Faulkenbury, and sound guru, Rob
Heironimus, our Shock Trooper for Half-Life: Opposing Force currently
speaks Greedo and is the funniest thing I have ever heard in my entire

It's just too bad we can't leave it in :) Anyone know Lucas?



A few days ago, I was demonstrating a build of Opposing Force to some
nice folks with Imagine (the dudes that publish Next Generation, PC
Gamer and PC Accelerator magazines).

Anyway, I was running around in a test map the coders created that
demonstrates the new squad combat we've been developing for Half-Life. In
a nutshell you can gather up a squad of seven AI soldiers (including a
medic) and lead them into battle with a horde of Shock Troopers and
Voltigores (just a couple of the many new aliens in Op For).

It is very cool and all, but the AI squad vs. squad combat isn't what
suprised me. I'd spent hours skirmishing in this map long before the
demo I gave on Wednesday. But, this latest version had the new medic
soldier working like a medic. He's designed to join your squad and heal
those who are injured. Right now it sort of works like a walking wall
health unit, except that the walking wall health unit is actually a
soldier who can talk with you, follow you and fire his .357 Desert Eagle
at enemies. It's very cool, indeed.

But, the medic was literally dropped into the game the night before the
demo, so I was looking at it for the first time when I was demoing it to
the press dudes.

Anyway, as I'm doing the demo, I run through a skirmish with my friendly
soldier squad attacking the horde of aliens and me running back for
healing from the medic whenever I get too injured.

The medic happens to be a tough looking black dude. I was admiring the
paint job on the model when one of the press dudes asks me to restart the
map again to try something different in the battle to see what the outcome
would be - or something like that.

So I restart the map and immediately go into the room where the medic
is waiting and everyone in the room (including me) is suprised to see
that the medic looks different. There's another version of the medic!
Instead of the tough looking black dude, he now looks a lot like the
"Joker" character from "Full Metal Jacket".

I think one of the press dudes said something like, "Whoa... He's different
now. You guys have variations on these guys!"

And I was like, "Oh yeah. (concealed suprise) Our art deparment is trying
to make sure that no two NPC's in the game look alike."

Anyway, to make a long story short, many people have asked why all the
scientists and security guards throughout the Black Mesa facility look
alike. The answer, of course, is cloning.

Kidding aside, the answer has a lot to do with memory constraints, artist
resources, and other complicated issues relating to the development process.

However, since Gearbox has the opportunity to go back and essentially
make Half-Life an even better experience with the Opposing Force expansion
we can do things like that. I'm not sure we'll have time or space to
make every single NPC in the game unique, but we'll be pretty close.

So, there's many versions of each type of soldier. There's many versions
of just about every character. And, as developers we're pleased to know
that our time has been worth it.

Because, it was a very cool thing to get a reaction like Op For did from
a group of the most important editors in the game press.



Rob performed the most insane move ever conceivable in Q3Test. And now,
for a limited time it is "CAUGHT ON TAPE." You must see this to believe it.




Gearbox is Hiring

We currently are looking for an experienced Programmer and an
experienced Level Designer.

Level Designer:

Position Offers:

- Project 1: Opposing Force, a game expansion for Half-Life
- Growth and promotion opportunities for future projects
- Competitive salary w/ highest per-product bonuses in the industry
- Full benefits paid, yearly home equipment bonus, other perks

Who you are:

- Have shipped at least one known commercial title
- Experience creating content for a major 3d game system (Quake, UnReal, etc)
- Half-Life and/or Worldcraft editing experience a plus
- Other software development related experience or skills helpful
- Heavy interest in first person 3d games a plus


Position Offers:

- Project 1: Opposing Force, a game expansion for Half-Life
- Growth and promotion opportunities for future projects
- Competitive salary w/ highest per-product bonuses in the industry
- Full benefits paid, yearly home equipment bonus, other perks

Who you are:

- Must have shipped at least one known commercial title
- 2+ years professional programming experience
- C++ required
- Other languages, skills helpful
- Knowledge/experience in networking or 3d programming very helpful

To submit resumes, e-mail: jobs@gearboxsoftware.com

For more information visit: www.gearboxsoftware.com
- Heavy interest in first person 3d games a plus


E-mail gostergard@sierra.com for information about Half-Life: Opposing
Force press materials, team interviews and the like.

Gearbox Software...
Randy Pitchford 2004/04/13
Brian Hess 2003/12/17
Sean Reardon 2002/10/09
Robert Selitto 2000/12/04
Landon Montgomery 2000/08/09
Patrick Deupree 2000/08/01
Brian Martel 2000/08/01
Rob Heironimus 2000/04/26
John Faulkenbury 1999/12/01

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