Randy Pitchford
Gearbox Software | Programmer | Dec 6, 2002, 20:37:41 (ET) | randyp@gearboxsoftware.com
Login: randyp Name: Randy Pitchford
Project:

1) Halo: PC
2) Secret Sauce

Plan:
********
12/06/02

Gearbox Software suspended development of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero
in July of 2002. Counter-Strike: Condition Zero introduces single player
gaming to the world's #1 online action game. Valve Software has overseen
development since July. Gearbox is aware of and endorses Ritual
Entertainment's involvement. After developing several Half-Life games,
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 and James Bond 007:
Nightfire, Gearbox Software is refocusing its efforts on future technology
and more interesting and innovative game play. Gearbox Software will be
discussing Halo: Combat Evolved for the PC and our vision for the future of
interactive entertainment at The CPL's December 2002 event in Dallas, Texas.

Any inquiries may directed to press@gearboxsoftware.com

-Randy Pitchford


********
10/11/02

Check out the current issue of CGW - James Bond 007: Nightfire is on the
cover and there is some great coverage within - lots of exclusive screenshots
and new information about the single and multiplayer game.

-DuvalMagic


********
08/20/02

I heard the news about William last night when I checked Jim Dose's plan
file on a whim. I had a hard time sleeping last night - I was remembering.

William was one of a handful of guys I connected with when I worked at
3dRealms. With William, mutual respect and professionalism was a given.

I came to know him long after Rise of the Triad, working on Prey. I heard
stories about how he "enjoyed" the success and money from Triad and the
feeling was that Prey could be much, much bigger. In late 1996, with every
other person on the Prey team leaving to start other companies or work on
other projects, he was really the only guy left. For some reason, he chose
me to get involved with him in the design of the new editor for Prey, so I
was fortunate enough to spend lots of time with William.

I remember spending afternoons with him yelling our way through design
problems with the Prey editor over the boom of his stereo blasting The
Beastie Boys. Brian Martel always said, "The Beastie Boys are developing
Prey."

It bothers me, now that he's gone, that he saw Rise of the Triad as just a
step and Prey was where he intended to prove himself. He didn't know that
Triad was to be his most successful, released game that he had significant
involvement with.

But, I saw evidence of his success after Triad - I played with it, worked
with it. He made neat things happen with the Prey engine, things no one
else was doing at the time. Unfortunately, other problems plagued the
project.

When I heard about him leaving the game business several years ago, I
remember having some thoughts about it. On one hand, I felt good that he
was relieved of the unpredictability of factors he had little control over
affecting his ability to reach his goals. On the other hand, I felt sad
that his achievements may never reach the hands of the public.

I heard from him occasionally after I left 3dRealms - Mostly him telling
me about something The Beastie Boys were doing. It's been a couple years
since I heard from him...

I'm sorry he's gone. I would think of him from time to time, wondering if
or when he may emerge again in the game dev scene. I'm sorry I'll never
get to congratulate him again.

William added something to my life and for that I am thankful. I can only
hope that he found fulfillment and happiness with his life after games.

-DuvalMagic


********
07/15/02

By the way - The new Gearbox website was designed by Walter "|2|" Costinak.

We thank him.

www.2design.org

-DuvalMagic


********
07/12/02

Gearbox has launched a new website. Feel free to tell us what you think
about what we're working on in the public forums.

-DuvalMagic


********
06/11/02

Gearbox is hiring. This is a rare opportunity to get involved in some
serious titles (like Counter-Strike: Condition Zero or James Bond) before
they go out the door. Credit, royalties and getting in at the beginning of
our future titles is a rare opportunity so if you have talent and passion
about the kinds of games we make don't miss out on this chance.

Specifically, we're looking for an animator and a level designer.
Descriptions of these positions are below.

Here's how to get a hold of us:

+ E-Mail resume: jobs@gearboxsoftware.com
OR
+ Snail mail or FAX resume, demo tapes and/or samples:

Gearbox Software
Attention: Recruiting
101 East Park Blvd. Suite 1069
Plano, TX 75074
FAX: (972) 312-8318


Here are the position descriptions:

ARTIST - ANIMATION

Gearbox Software, creators of Half-Life: Opposing Force, Half-Life: Blue
Shift, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 for PC, Half-Life for PlayStation 2,
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero and James Bond: Nightfire is looking for a
talented 3d artist to join our award winning team of developers.

The successful candidate will have a well rounded background in art, but
has a passion and interest in character animation and has experience
animating content for use in digital entertainment.

Required:
- Excellent 3d model animation skills using professional 3d art packages
- Experience creating art and 3d models for computer games
- Team working experience
- Good communication skills
- Must be a US citizen and be able to live and work in Dallas, TX
- Must play and love games

Preferred:
- Shipping 3D game development experience
- 3d Studio MAX and Character Studio expertise
- Proficiency with commercial 2d art software like Adobe Photoshop
- BS (or equivalent degree or certificate) in art or related subjects

Compensation:
- Excellent salary commensurate with experience
- Royalty percentage of huge, AAA games
- Full benefits package
- Signing bonus and relocation package
- Upward mobility and promotion possible
- Great office culture
- Many other perks and benefits



LEVEL DESIGNER

Gearbox Software, creators of Half-Life: Opposing Force, Half-Life: Blue
Shift, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 for PC, Half-Life for PlayStation 2,
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero and James Bond: Nightfire is looking for a
talented 3d artist to join our award winning team of developers.

The successful candidate will have created solid, fun and visually stunning
environments and game scenarios for a 3D game.

Required:
- Experience designing levels for at least one completed commercial
project or game modification project
- Excellent team oriented and independent work habits
- Ability to adapt to a defined design and artistic style

Preferred:
- 1+ year experience in the game development industry
- Experience with level building tools like Radiant and Worldcraft
- Working knowledge of 2d art tools
- Degree in Computer Science, Architecture, Artistic Design or CAD

Compensation:
- Excellent salary commensurate with experience
- Royalty percentage of huge, AAA games
- Full benefits package
- Signing bonus and relocation package
- Upward mobility and promotion possible
- Great office culture
- Many other perks and benefits


Again, contact us this way:

+ E-Mail resume: jobs@gearboxsoftware.com
OR
+ Snail mail or FAX resume, demo tapes and/or samples:

Gearbox Software
Attention: Recruiting
101 East Park Blvd. Suite 1069
Plano, TX 75074
FAX: (972) 312-8318


-DuvalMagic



********
03/29/02

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 for the PC is now in stores.

Everybody at the office is playing on-line, so if you've managed to get the
game early and jump on-line, there's a very high probability that you're
playing with someone from the development team.

I noticed that EBgames.com is giving away a USB adapter for the PS2 joystick
if you purchase the game on-line from them. They say that this is only for
pre-orders, but if you order immediately you'll probably be okay.

Gearbox really enjoys this game and we intend to be playing it on-line for
some time. We're therefore very interested in supporting the title and
improving it through user feedback. The game has been through some very
thorough testing at Gearbox and with the "Pro Skaters" at Activision, but
there are always things players discover or think of to improve the game
that we may have overlooked.

Please send feedback directly to us at: thps3@gearboxsoftware.com.

Game on!

-DuvalMagic


********
03/14/02

Opposing Force On-Line is now available in a mod version. Also available
is the Linux dedicated server. There are mirrors at many of the news sites
and you can now also download the files from Gearbox Software's FTP.

Here are the links:

Linux Dedicated Server - opfor1108.tar.bz2

Opposing Force On-Line (Mod version) - ofo1108.exe

Note that this latest release includes new content and a new game mode,
Zone Control. Of course, all of the "All-Star" deathmatch maps and Capture
the Flag maps are included.

Also note that this release of Opposing Force On-Line is now a modification
of Half-Life. If you own Half-Life, no other purchase is required.

Join us on Gearbox Software's game servers.

-DuvalMagic


********
02/15/02

Gearbox Software is celebrating it's third anniversary.

I'm very proud of what we've accomplished thus far and am extremely
excited about where we are going.

In it's life span, Gearbox Software has shipped three complete titles and
shelved twice as many SKU's. We seem to have made a few good decisions as
we've sold a lot of units, won some awards and seem to have made many of
our customers happy.

But, we're not resting. We're just getting started. And we're attentively
listening to our customers to help us push forward.

From our perspective, we haven't come close to reaching our potential.
But, the things we've done up to this point have been fun and have been
important to give us the experience, the resources and the partners we need
to really make things happen as we move into new territory. In 2002 we're
taking some great steps towards our larger creative goals.

This year, Gearbox will ship three, four or five titles including:
- Counter-Strike: Condition Zero
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 for PC
- James Bond title - to be named

All of this is extremely exciting to me and I envy each Gearbox developer
that gets to focus all of their creative time towards these titles.

Moving forward, I expect that we'll continue to cultivate relationships
with the folks that we've worked so well with thus far. Valve Software,
in particular, has been instrumental in our endeavors and I look forward
to many future adventures with them and their characters.

Also, soon we'll be creating new things that we hope will surprise and
inspire game players and game makers everywhere. Along the way, we intend
to attract new customers who still need a little extra effort from us
before they figure out what they've been missing out on. It's the
responsibility of the rest of us to show non-gamers that enjoying
interactive entertainment is time well spent.

In any case, I wish everyone in our industry the success that we've
achieved over the past three years.

Happy Birthday Gearbox!

-DuvalMagic


********
12/10/01

I'd like to extend my thanks to everyone who attended the CPL world
championship and joined us in our discussion about the future of Counter-
Strike.

Questions and feedback we received there influences our direction, so we
very much appreciate your time.

I'd also like to congratulate all of the participants in the Counter-Strike
world championship. You are paving the way. With coverage from CNN and
ESPN and $150,000 on the line from sponsors like Intel, it's really
wonderful to see our new professional sport becoming cemented into our
culture.

For interested people who didn't attend, coverage can be found at shackES
and at the Adrenaline Vault.

-DuvalMagic


********
11/19/01

Half-Life for PS2 is on shelves worldwide. Buy it now! Here's some info
from a few of the better review sites to help you with your decision:

IGN - 9.1 (out of 10)
http://ps2.ign.com/reviews/15631.html
"All in all, Half-Life is the best first-person shooter on PlayStation 2
to date."

GameSpy - 89%
http://www.gamespy.com/reviews/november01/halflifeps2/
"The quality of the interlocking plot, the ongoing madness, the insanely
human AI of the enemy infantry you encounter, and the alien mind-funk of
the final portion of the experience is all you need this side of Halo."

GameSpot - 8.8 (out of 10)
http://gamespot.com/gamespot/filters/products/0,11114,466377,00.html
"Featuring the classic single-player game, a head-to-head deathmatch mode,
and a new cooperative multiplayer expansion called Decay, Half-Life for
the PS2 is a gripping combination of superb story design, sly artificial
intelligence, taut combat sequences, and logical puzzles."

-DuvalMagic


********
09/21/01

I've been getting a lot of e-mail...

Gearbox Software does not currently need any Beta testers for Counter-Strike:
Condition Zero. If we do need testers in the future, I'll put the word out.

But I thank you for the many e-mails I've received from fans who are clearly
very excited about Condition Zero and would like a chance to have a look
before it's complete. We've been working with the press to deliver as much
information about Condition Zero development as we can as quickly as features
and content are added to the game. Soon, there will be a new wave of info
available on-line and in the print press.

Until then, please be patient and understanding if we don't respond to all
of your e-mail.

-DuvalMagic


********
07/04/01

Blue Shift is the #1 PC game in North America.

NPD Top Ten PC Games for the week of June 23:

1.Half-Life Blue Shift ($35)
2.The Sims ($50)
3.The Sims: House Party ($30)
4.The Sims: Livin' Large ($30)
5.Starcraft Battlechest Bundle ($25)
6.Emperor: Battle For Dune ($50)
7.Roller Coaster Tycoon ($28)
8.Diablo II ($40)
9.Myst III: Exile ($45)
10.Black & White ($45)

Crazy.

-DuvalMagic


********
06/25/01

Gearbox Software is hiring. Gearbox is growing cautiously and smartly, but
we are growing. We're serious this time...

We're ramping up new projects outside of the Half-Life series, so this is
a one time chance to join our award winning talent as we break new ground.

Aside from the all-new stuff, we're also continuing work with Valve and
Sierra in the future on some very exciting projects that are inside of the
Half-Life franchise of games. This is a rare chance to be a creative part
of some of the most successful and popular games ever made for the PC.

The resume building opportunities alone are golden, but since we foster
the sort of comfortable and productive development environment that's kept us
from ever losing an employee you'll probably be much more interested in
royalties, our complete benfits package, and many other perks Gearbox offers.

There are several positions in art, programming and level design open
and information about those positions can be found on our site:

www.gearboxsoftware.com

You can also look at the job descriptions posted on Gamasutra:

www.gamasutra.com

-DuvalMagic


********
06/18/01

!Blue Shift for $20 with a free copy of Gunman!

At the Best Buy in Plano, TX, Blue Shift is $20 and you get a free copy of
Gunman Chronicles. This is before the $10 Opposing Force rebate, so if
you've already got Opposing Force, you can get Gunman and Blue Shift with
the HD Pack for only $10. Serious bargain...

If you're from somewhere else and find any good Blue Shift bargains, drop
me a note and I'll mention them here.

-DuvalMagic


********
06/05/01

Sierra has posted the video trailer they made of the Playstation 2 version
of Half-Life for E3 here at their official site:

http://sierrastudios.com/games/half-life-playstation2/

There's a couple of glimpses of the new cooperative game (Half-Life: Decay).

Check it out.

-DuvalMagic



********
05/31/01

Blue Shift for $19.99!

http://www.compusa.com/products/product_info.asp?product_code=283501

The shelf date is still second week of June. It went gold a couple of weeks
before E3, so it's a gimme...

-DuvalMagic


+++
Game Design Theory -

Last week, for some reason, I wrote a down a thought relating to game design.
This morning I found it in a notepad on my desktop:


> Failure is no fun.
>
> Success feels good.
>
> People don't like to fail. They like to succeed.
>
> Once having failed, people will only continue playing if they believe
> the reward they'll get is worth the investment it takes to develop the
> skills necessary to succeed.
>
> So, you need to make a promise of some kind of reward to entice players
> to keep at it.
>
> AND, you need to deliver an understanding of what kind of investment it
> will take to succeed.
>
> Typically, that understanding can be delivered upon failure. Players
> must profit from failure. Players must profit more from failure than
> from success because success is a reward in and of itself, whereas
> failure is an incentive to stop playing.
>
> Failure is no fun.


Anyone agree with this?
+++


********
03/14/01

Half-Life: Opposing Force is now at version 1.1.0.6

The OpFor Linux server will be released tomorrow afternoon - I'll get some
mirrors in place before the release.

This release includes OpFor CTF (team based multiplayer action - Black Mesa
Civilians vs. the Opposing Force soldiers). It also includes the entire
collection of All-Star deathmatch maps (Fun stuff from great designers
including Tom "Paradox" Mustaine, David Kelvin, Eric Reuter, Marin "Kndyman"
Gazzari, Rich Carlson and The Levelord).

Some notes about the Linux version:

* No CD required, just get the Valve HL server and the OpFor server
* Install clean if you can
* Otherwise, make sure you delete pak0.pak from the /gearbox directory
* E-mail zoner@gearboxsoftware.com for comments/questions about the Linux
server

Notes about the patch:

* Deathmatch now uses the CTF style grappling hook (use sv_oldgrapple to
revert if you liked the old one better)
* Trip mines don't block doors anymore. Also, we fixed the problem of them
being used as stairs
* European versions should all be good now. Sorry about earlier localization
issues

So, go and play OpFor Online. If you enjoy team based multiplayer and
haven't tried OpFor CTF yet, you're missing out. If we see enough people on
the servers, we'll create some more maps for you...

-DuvalMagic


********
03/02/01

About three years ago, when Rebel Boat Rocker was shutting down and we
began creating Gearbox Software in its wake, I had some time and inclination
to think about the process of making games.

I began compiling tidbits of information and game development wisdom into
a single document. Some of it I stole from the talent I've been working
with - guys like Brian Martel and Rob Heironimus. Other bits came from
tricks and facts I've learned from people like George Broussard, Richard
Hilleman and Kerry Wilkenson. Most of it just came from my experiences as
a game maker.

Since I founded Gearbox, I've been appending lines from the document piece
by piece onto the end of each of my .plan file entries.

I've decided to just print the whole thing here now for a couple of reasons.
First, many of the items I've grown to have different opinions about - a
problem that is likely to get worse in time if I don't share everything.
Second, I think that just about every other developer who's reflected on the
process of game making probably has great insignt and may want to contribute
to such a list if invited. Finally, it's not a terribly long list.

So, below is my list of "Game Development Rules and Observations." If you'd
like me to add something to the list, feel free to e-mail me. Before too
long, I'll probably re-print everything somewhere.


(+ indicates that the item has already appeared in one of my .plan updates)


Game Development Rules and Observations

+ Pitchford's Law of Production: The accuracy of the release date directly
correlates to confidence in the schedule. Without a schedule, there is
zero precision in the release date.

+ Building a smaller game that is very solid is better than building a
huge game that is broken.

- The interface to the game is an obstacle - not a feature.

- Getting feedback from interaction with the game is the whole point.
The more rewarding, interesting, unique, beautiful and smart the
feedback is, the better the experience.

+ The more work (installation, learning, cut-scenes, etc) a new player
has to sift through before getting to the actual game the less likely
that player will eventually find fun in their experience.

+ Always preceed challenge with incentive. Always follow challenges with
feedback. A player must profit from both success *and* failure.

- Do not follow whatever the most respected game of last year was by
making the same game and thinking that you can do it better - unless
you're making an add-on pack :)

+ Remember that you cannot build the game alone. Learning how to
successfully interact with your team is often more important than
any individual person's creative talent.

- Work with the publisher's marketing people. They exist to sell your
game. If they like you and care about you, they will put more effort
into selling your product.

+ Law of FPS deathmatch design: Always make the default weapon a hitscan.

- Sometimes design balance is bad. Imbalance creates ease or difficulty
which can reduce or amplify the sense of accomplishment from success.

+ 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 sales, or the overall response to the product.

+ Keep mind of the big picture. A developer who spends too much time
perfecting a tiny piece of the game risks not being able to deliver
the whole.

+ Focus on your tasks. Do not allow yourself to worry too much about
how everyone else you work with is doing (unless that's your role).

+ Things usually take about twice as long as you think they should.

+ If you can't find fulfillment in a job as challenging and rewarding
as this one, get help. You're probably suicidal.

+ This is a really hard one: Don't burn bridges. You never know who
you're going to have to work with again. We're all usually guilty
of this at least one time before we figure it out.

- Martel's Law of human nature: It's always fun to blow stuff up.

+ Amongst the passionate developers who really care about games remember
that there are no perfect people, but there are plenty of perfect
intentions. Therefore, be considerate of others mistakes.

- Treat others who seem to be slacking with the patience and
understanding you'll need when you hit a creative slow point.

- Learn to harness the creativity of those who don't conform in the
expected ways. That guy with the colored hair may look at things
differently. This can be valuable if it can be leveraged.

- Be careful about working with antisocial people. Often there are
reasons why people need to build their identities around strange
appearance or behavior.

+ Play games. Play them as much as you make them, if you can. Be
suspicious of the game developer who doesn't play games.

- Game development is about decisions - often with sacrifices. Allow
sacrifices and you will ship your title. Sacrifice too much and your
title may fail. Decisions.

+ 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.

+ Resource redundancy is a tool. It can boost moral for workers doing
a technically difficult job, but it can lower moral in a system that
is expected to be predictable.

- Be careful about attaching a movie or book franchise to a game. The
franchise cannot carry the product, but it can get everyone's
attention. If the game is great, it has a strong chance of succeeding.
If the game is bad, it will fail miserably.

+ Be respectful of competitive development studios. Some of your best
talent may come from there.

- It's okay to be somewhat open with employees about where people stand.
No one feels good about the co-worker who doesn't seem to do anything
until they learn he's not getting paid very much.

- It's okay to be open with your employers. They'll respect you more if
you're honest about the things that concern you. A predictable resource
makes an employer much more comfortable than a loose cannon.

+ 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.

+ Understand the limit of quality. Quality is subjective and can be
endlessly pursued. Knowing what is 'good enough' is key. Remember that
the Mona Lisa only covers 3/4 the canvas the artist originally set out
fill.

- Be friendly and respectful to everyone you meet. You never know how
important someone will become in time. This business changes radically
very quickly. Bill Gates was nobody in 1971.

- When you stop learning, you lose your value. Don't be afraid to learn
from the talent around you. Always learn from your own experience and
by watching the experiences of others.

+ The 'formula' for a successful game is simple, but it's not what you
think. At any given second of the game, if the player is gratified by
their experience to the point where they want to play more, you've
got it.

- Big flashy introductory movies based around a company logo are usually
not considered entertaining by the player. I suppose they manage to
make their way into titles because they help the game makers feel
proud of their label. Building brand recognition is valuable, but
don't over do it - especially during the game.

+ The only thing worse than a player finding it difficult to cleanly
uninstall or remove a program from the computer is the fact that the
player felt compelled to delete the game in the first place.

- Try not to make extremely important decisions instantly. These often
occur near the end of a painfully long brainstorming session and they're
nearly always regretted the next day.

- Things only get done if people do them. Doing stuff is better than not.

+ Misdirected effort is wasted effort. Everyone on a team must have the
same goal. The goal should usually involve actually finishing the title
and having it be a good one. Seems simple, but it often doesn't work
that way.

- If goals feel unreachable to a team, they may never be reached. Perhaps
the most powerful ally towards a successful title is confidence. If a
person or team lacks confidence, some sort of change is mandatory or
the project will be met with failure.

+ All games involve challenge. Challenge implies work. Work is not a
synonym for fun. This is the fundamental hurdle of a game designer.

- Some of the basic instincts that cause you to want to do your job (or
anything else for that matter) are the same instincts that should be
manipulated by your game. Human nature is what must be understood by
a designer. Always be aware of how your human nature drives you and
try to put those elements into your game.

- If you know something that you can do to make the title better, you
cannot assume that eventually someone else will ask you to do it. You
must first make your talent and skills known to your team-mates and
managers.

- If someone you work with thinks something in the game isn't very good,
chances are it will bother some customer somewhere too. Conversely, if
someone on the team really likes something in the game, it will
probably be liked by a customer.

- Beware allowing things you do to become to precious to you.
Remember, no matter how good you do your job, it can always be done
better. Someone you work with may hold the key, so constantly seek
and absorb criticism.

- Always remember who your customers are. Adding features or content
that you hope will impress your game developer peers but cannot be
recognized by the average end user is counter-productive.

- If you want to be on a winning development team, start by making your
work environment as comfortable as possible for your co-workers.

- Our job is to create experiences that our customers would otherwise
not be able to have. The better we apply the unique power of our
medium to that goal, the better chance we as an industry have of
monopolizing the world's mindshare for all entertainment.


R. Pitchford
2/18/98


-DuvalMagic


********
01/18/01

This week, I joined the CPL Advisory Board.

CPL Website Announcement

Gearbox Software has long been interested in competitive gaming on a
professional level and has supported many competitive events in the past
(including CPL events like the Counterstrike tournament at the recent
Babbages $100,000 CPL event).

I hope that my association with the CPL will help Gearbox get an even
greater understanding of the issues associated with high level game
competitions to help us make our upcoming titles a more solid competitive
platform.

Since the CPL has been the leading computer game sporting league for some
time, it is best positioned to continue to push professional gaming forward.

As a member of the CPL Advisory Board, I hope to use my influence to help
the idea of professional gaming grow in ways that uphold the respect and
integrity of the Cyberathletes and their fans.

No league for any sport is perfect. But, the league that continually
tries to improve itself, and actively asks for the advice of people who
may have means to improve it, has the best chance of approaching perfection.

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Business:

- Be respectful of competitive development studios. Some of your best
talent may come from there.
+++



********
01/10/01

Gearboxsoftware.com grew a little bit today. Some changes to the DNS server
were involved that take some time to filter around the internet.

Any mail sent to a gearboxsoftware.com address today may have bounced. Just
try again later. If you can't already get through, I'm sure you'll be able
to in the morning.

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Design Theory:

- Always preceed challenge with incentive. Always follow challenges with
feedback. A player must profit from both success *and* failure.
+++


********
11/17/00

Since the announcement was made this morning that Gearbox Software is
working on Half-Life for Playstation 2, I've been slammed with requests
for more information.

We are extremely excited about this project, and will be releasing more
information soon. For the next few weeks, however, we will be keeping
quiet.

Until then, look for a big scoop on HL PS2 in the January issue of
GamePro which should appear on shelves in the second week of December.

-DuvalMagic


+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Press:

- Amongst the passionate developers who really care about games remember
that there are no perfect people, but there are plenty of perfect
intentions. Therefore, be considerate of others mistakes.
+++



********
11/01/00

It doesn't seem like a year since Half-Life: Opposing Force went gold.
It's even more amazing to us at Gearbox that the game has been as
successful as it has.

To help commemorate OpFor's birthday, Gearbox was recently delivered the
PC Action Game of the Year award we won at the Academy of Interactive
Arts and Sciences 2000 Interactive Achievement Awards. AIAS website.

Here's a picture of the award, the case it came in and the box of the game
that earned it: *aias_award.jpg*

So, congratulations to all of my coworkers at Gearbox who helped make
Opposing Force worthy of such praise from our peers in the industry.

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Community:

- This is a really hard one: Don't burn bridges. You never know who
you're going to have to work with again. We're all usually guilty
of this at least one time before we figure it out.
+++


********
09/11/00

I seem to be getting a lot of questions about Half-Life: Blue Shift and
Half-Life for Sega Dreamcast.
Here are correct answers to the most common questions...

+Blue Shift is intended to be exclusive to the Sega Dreamcast version of
Half-Life. It's possible that it could eventually appear on other
platforms (like the PC) should it be successful. Porting Blue Shift to
other platforms cannot be considered until after the Dreamcast version
ships. (And, yes, we've seen the petition)

+Half-Life: Blue Shift is the third official single player game in the
Half-Life universe. Half-Life and Half-Life: Opposing Force were the first
two. As far as we know, no other single player games in the Half-Life
universe have been announced.

+In Blue Shift, players take on the role of the security guard known
as Barney.

+Blue Shift is a complete new episode that spans about 27 levels. This is
about 1/3 the size of the original Half-Life.

+The new models are on average about twice the detail (polygons) of the
original Half-Life models. They also sport new textures and animation
articulation.

+There are new characters introduced in Half-Life: Blue Shift. Barney's
fate is explained as well.

+Captivation Digital Laboratories has been responsible for the engineering
of the porting of the Half-Life code base to the Sega Dreamcast. Gearbox is
behind Half-Life: Blue Shift and new content (including the upgraded
characters, weapons, front end, manual, etc).

+Valve and Gearbox have worked closely enough together on the story of
Blue Shift and the direction of the upgraded content.

+This project has been in development for nearly 1 year.

+You can save your game to the VMU anywhere in the Dreamcast version of
Half-Life.

+Barney has a last name and you'll hear it for the first time in Blue Shift.

+Gearbox does have other projects under development, but they have not yet
been announced.


-DuvalMagic


+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Focus:

+ Focus on your tasks. Do not allow yourself to worry too much about
how everyone else you work with is doing (unless that's your role).

+++




********
08/17/00

Someone's auctioning a signed Opposing Force poster on E-bay.

http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=404052939

Crazy.

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Focus:

+ Misdirected effort is wasted effort. Everyone on a team must have the
same goal. The goal should usually involve actually finishing the title
and having it be a good one. Seems simple, but it often doesn't work
that way.

+++


********
06/12/00

We're playing OpFor CTF right now at:
12.39.99.157

We're the Opposing Force, everyone else is Black Mesa.

Bring it on :)

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Enterainment:

+ If you can't find fulfillment in a job as challenging and rewarding
as this one, get help. You're probably suicidal.
+++


********
06/08/00

Half-Life: Opposing Force CTF has been released to the public!

Here are some mirror sites:

OpFor CTF @ Adrenaline Vault
OpFor CTF @ Stomped #1
OpFor CTF @ Stomped #2
OpFor CTF @ Blue's
OpFor CTF @ Scary's Shuga Shack
OpFor CTF @ File Planet

Please send feedback to "contact@gearboxsoftware.com"

Also note that our friend Autolycus over at the Half-Life Editing Resource
Center has posted OpFor CTF editing information including new entity
descriptions, new .fgd files for Worldcraft and a CTF Level Design Toolkit
that was developed at Gearbox by OpFor CTF designers. For anyone interested
in creating their own custom OpFor CTF maps, check out the site at:
http://halflife.gamedesign.net

Enjoy!

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Enterainment:

- The 'formula' for a successful game is simple, but it's not what you
think. At any given second of the game, if the player is gratified by
their experience to the point where they want to play more, you've
got it.
+++


********
06/05/00

I've gotten quite a bit of mail asking when OpFor CTF will be released.
So, once again, OpFor CTF will be released with the latest Half-Life patch.
You should expect the upgrade to Half-Life to be released "very soon".

Also, it was noticed that there are seven maps mentioned in the recently
released OpFor CTF manual, yet it's previously been reported that the
free mod will ship with only four maps. This is because three of the seven
maps are under development and were mentioned: a) to show Gearbox's
commitment to supporting the game even after release, and b) for the sake
of completeness and accuracy in the document.

If you haven't yet looked at the Official OpFor CTF manual, Gearbox released
it to Planet Half-Life early so that Half-Life players can see what the new
game is all about before the free mod is released.

Check it out here: www.planethalflife.com

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Longevity:

- The only thing worse than a player finding it difficult to cleanly
uninstall or remove a program from the computer is the fact that the
player felt compelled to delete the game in the first place.
+++




********
05/23/00

I've gotten a few e-mails recently asking about which Gearbox designers
created which sections of Opposing Force.

At Gearbox, there is quite a bit of collaboration during level development
not only amongst designers but with the engineers and artists as well. In
fact, the Gearbox artists responsible for scripted sequences (Stephen Bahl
and Landon Montgomery) greatly influenced the design of many areas of the
game.

But, for the most part, the maps had primary ownership by one or two
designers who did the majority of the work on those levels. Below is a
list of which designers were most responsible for the maps of Half-Life:
Opposing Force.

Boot Camp:
ofboot0 - David Mertz
ofboot1 - David Mertz
ofboot2 - David Mertz
ofboot3 - David Mertz
ofboot4 - David Mertz

Intro:
of0a0 - Rob Heironimus

Welcome To Black Mesa:
of1a1 - Mike Wardwell
of1a2 - Mike Wardwell
of1a3 - Rob Heironimus
of1a4 - Rob Heironimus, Randy Pitchford
of1a4b - Rob Heironimus

"We Are Pulling Out":
of1a5 - Randy Pitchford, Matt Armstrong
of1a5b - Randy Pitchford, Matt Armstrong
of1a6 - Mike Wardwell

Missing In Action:
of2a1 - Mike Wardwell
of2a1b - Mike Wardwell
of2a2 - Mike Wardwell
of2a3 - Randy Pitchford

Friendly Fire:
of2a4 - Randy Pitchford
of2a5 - Randy Pitchford
of2a6 - Randy Pitchford

We Are Not Alone:
of3a1 - Rob Heironimus
of3a1b - Rob Heironimus
of3a2 - Rob Heironimus

Crush Depth:
of3a4 - Randy Pitchford
of3a5 - Randy Pitchford
of3a6 - Randy Pitchford

Vicarious Reality:
of4a1 - David Mertz
of4a2 - David Mertz
of4a3 - David Mertz

Pit Worm's Nest:
of4a4 - Randy Pitchford
of4a5 - Randy Pitchford

Foxtrot Uniform:
of5a1 - Mike Wardwell
of5a2 - Mike Wardwell
of5a3 - Mike Wardwell
of5a4 - Randy Pitchford, Mike Wardwell

The Package:
of6a1 - Mike Wardwell
of6a2 - Mike Wardwell
of6a3 - Mike Wardwell
of6a4 - Mike Wardwell
of6a4b - Mike Wardwell

Worlds Collide:
of6a5 - Randy Pitchford, Matt Armstrong

Conclusion:
of7a0 - Rob Heironimus

This list is for the single player levels only. The All-Star multiplayer
level designers are credited in on-screen text displayed for a few seconds
when you start playing the map.

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Lifestyle:

- Play games. Play them as much as you make them, if you can. Be
suspicious of the game developer who doesn't play games.
+++

********
05/09/00

It turns out that we'll be playing OpFor CTF on the floor of E3. Come by
the Half-Life display at the Sierra / Havas booth to see (and maybe even
play) the soon-to-be-released official Gearbox Capture The Flag before
anyone else on the planet. Also being shown are a number of other excellent
Half-Life mods that have helped Half-Life be the most played game on the
internet.

So, if you're at E3, stop by, say hello and check out the CTF action.

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Focus:

- Keep mind of the big picture. A developer who spends too much time
perfecting a tiny piece of the game risks not being able to deliver
the whole.
+++




********
05/03/00

I've gotten some mail asking about OpFor CTF's release date so here's the
official word:

OpFor CTF will be released either on the day or very shortly after the
new Half-Life update is released.

In other news, check out this new Counter Strike map developed by Gearbox:

cs_shoothouse.zip

This map was developed by Gearbox Software designer Stephen "Reichert"
Palmer. It's very tight and is intended for six or four player games.
There seemed to be a shortage of small team type CS maps, so here's a
great option for small LAN games or the smaller servers.

Gearbox opened a server dedicated to small CS games. Right now it's running
cs_shoothouse and pa_fact, a Dave Johnson map (he created de_dust). The
server is located at: 12.39.99.157 port 27018. There's another server
Gearbox is running on port 27017 and you're likely to find Gearbox
developers playing on these servers from time to time. Once CTF is
released, one of these servers will probably become an OpFor CTF server.

Finally, a few people sent e-mail mentioning that the link to the article I
had written about the future of on-line gaming (mentioned in my last .plan
update) had been recycled by euniverse.com for other daily articles. So,
I've reprinted the article for anyone who's interested in reading it here:

www.gearboxsoftware.com/articles.html

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Production:

- Pitchford's Law of Production: The accuracy and precision of the release
date directly correlates to confidence in the schedule. Without a schedule,
there is zero precision in the release date.
+++



********
4/25/00

Several weeks ago, I had been asked to comment about the future of on-line
gaming in the context of it possibly dominating all forms of interactive
entertainment. Apparently I wrote a considerable essay on the matter as
it's now posted here:

www.euniverse.com

Reading it again (after having forgotten about I had written it), it sounds
like I thought I knew what I was talking about. It's slightly intellectual
and very academic, but an interesting read for anyone who really thinks
about the nature of interactive entertainment (on-line or not).

Let me know what you think...

-DuvalMagic

PS. I played the Daikatana demo...

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Design Theory:

- Law of FPS: Always make the default weapon hitscan.
+++


********
3/3/00

I picked up a copy of the Daikatana strategy guide at the mall yesterday.

After flipping through the book I'll just say this:

-I will be buying the game. I can't completely explain myself, but I'm
actually looking forward to it.
-I haven't decided if I should hang up the KillCreek centerfold poster yet.
I don't know which room something like would fit in.
-The "Navy Seal Rocketeer" character pictured on page 27 of the strategy
guide reminds me of Jason Hall's girlfriend. That's not an insult - 'cause
damn, she looks like she could kick my ass.

Note: I know that since I started Gearbox, my .plans have usually been
pretty stuffy, but I'm working on material for Blue's ".plan of the day"

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Design Theory:

- All games involve challenge. Challenge implies work. Work is not a
synonym for fun. This is the fundamental hurdle of a game designer.
+++

********
1/31/00

I can't believe I didn't announce this earlier.

My son (a first child who is now named Randall Steward Pitchford III)
was born on January 8, 2000. The fact that this was also Elvis' birthday
is purely coincidental.

He was 7lbs 13ozs and 20in. long at birth. I think he's a good looking
kid :)

See for yourself:

baby_duv.jpg

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Quality Assurance:

- Building a smaller game that is very solid is better than building a
huge game that is broken.
+++




********
01/27/00

Last night, I went to the Dallas Toys For Tots Finale Banquet. Toys For
Tots, as you're no doubt aware, is a charity managed by the US Marines
designed to provide gifts for needy children during the holiday season.

For the third year in a row, Kristy Junio (currently a contract writer
for Gearbox Software) organized local game development companies to help
contribute to the cause.

Last night, that contribution was recognized by the US Marines and the
city of Dallas, TX.

Several local game development companies and their employees made excellent
contributions. Perhaps the reason game developers are so giving in this
charity is because we understand the importance of playing games and playing
with toys in our constant goal of enjoying our lives.

In particular, Kristy asked me to thank Duncan McKissick of Ensemble
Studios. He, with the help of his wife, managed to gather the largest
collection of toys from Ensemble, Reel FX and US Web.

However, many other companies and the individuals who work for those
companies all made the needy children of Dallas very happy this season.
In a year where game developers have received quite a bit of negative
attention from the press as scapegoats for some of the violence in
society, it's very important to notice the true motivations behind the
developers in Dallas. We love to play and we want to share that joy with
the rest of the world. Together, Dallas game developers contributed more
than $5000 worth of gifts. This is the largest contribution made by Dallas
developers for the three years we've been involved. This is significant
when you consider that these toys were purchased by individual artists,
programmers and designers with their own money on their own time. And,
let me tell you, game developers know what the good toys are!

Those who were involved with donations this year include:

Ensemble Studios
id Software
Gathering Of Developers
Gearbox Software
Reel FX
Rogue Entertainment
Terminal Reality
US Web
and The Levelord (tm)

Thanks to everyone!

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Development:

- Understand the limit of quality. Quality is subjective and can be
endlessly pursued. Knowing what is 'good enough' is key. Remember that
the Mona Lisa only covers 3/4 the canvas the artist originally set out
fill.
+++




********
12/08/99

Many of you seem to be enjoying the new map releases made for Opposing Force.
Note that there are still three more maps to be released this week. Watch
Sierra's FTP Site for the new maps.

I'd like to give special thanks to Frank Nuccio, one of the Gearbox QA team
members for OpFor, who in addition to working with us to properly tune
the OpFor weapon placement in the new map releases is also running some
of the most competitive OpFor servers in the country. Information about
his game servers and events he hosts can be found at:

http://www.domain-of-pain.com/

-DuvalMagic


+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Design:

- The more work (installation, learning, cut-scenes, etc) a new player
has to sift through before getting to the actual game the less likely
that player will eventually find fun in their experience.
+++


********
12/03/99


First, let me say thanks to everyone who's helped us make Op For a
success. And for those of you who panned it, the letter bomb's in the
mail

From what we've heard so far, Op For has been selling out everywhere,
and we're incredibly pleased! We also seemed to have won over the review
press - a difficult task when following in the footsteps of something as
incredible as Half-Life.

Now, we're in the process of preparing some new multiplayer content in
an effort to say thanks to those who purchased the game. The first of
this will be unveiled next week. Each day, we will post a new remixed HL
deathmatch map populated with Op For weapons. If you would like to offer
this new content on your website or magazine's cover CD, you can contact
Doug Lombardi over at Sierra.

Also, I understand that there are a lot of people in the community eager
to use the new content and code we've added to Half-Life for your
modifications. We have already released the OpFor files for editing in
WorldCraft and they are available at http://halflife.gamedesign.net/.
You will find tutorials and detailed descriptions of all of the new
entities available in Opposing Force. In addition, we are working out a
way for you to reference OpFor content (models, sounds, etc) from within
your own custom games.

Finally, Gearbox is finishing up a Linux port of Opposing Force for
dedicated servers. This should be available relatively soon and I'm sure
it will be of benefit to the on-line HL/OpFor community.

We are pleased to see the Half-Life community embrace Opposing Force and
are proud to support it to the benefit of our fans.

-Randy Pitchford
Director, Gearbox Software


********
11/22/99

Sean and I are on the road for a couple of days. It's mostyly business, but
since I'm up in the Pacific North West anyway, I've dropped in on my Dad and
Grandfolks. If I don't respond to e-mail for a couple of days it's probably
because my grandmother doesn't have a fat enough pipe of fiber to deal with
all the junk sitting in my account. My Grandma actually has e-mail,
though... Very cool.

Anyway, this morning I checked my mail and found about a zillion
complaints from users having difficulty with OpFor.

I quickly recovered from the shock of so many complaints when it became
painfully obvious that well over 95% of the reports were about a problem
that is only associated with the warezed version of the game. Apparently
the guys who cracked the copy protection didn't quite do it cleanly. Heh...

If you get the "Can't find DLL API" error, you've stolen the game :)

-DuvalMagic


********
10/31/99

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:
http://www.avault.com/the_frag3/
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:
http://www.dailyradar.com/features/game_feature_page_53_1.html

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!

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Design:

- 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.
+++


********
10/28/99

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
opportunity.

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!

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Production:

- 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.
+++


********
10/20/99

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...

-DuvalMagic

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.
+++


********
10/17/99

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.

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Development:

- 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.
+++

********
10/15/99

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:

www.ebworld.com

-DuvalMagic

+++
R. Pitchford
Game Dev. Axioms
Production:

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


********
10/12/99

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:

http://www.gdconf.com/1999/roadtrips/austin.htm

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

-DuvalMagic


********
10/01/99

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!

-DuvalMagic



********
09/24/99

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

http://www.gameproworld.com/gpw/pc/article/0,1408,1694,00.html

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!

-DuvalMagic



********
09/10/99

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!

-DuvalMagic

>>>
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.
<<<


********
8/30/99

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.


-DuvalMagic


********
08/24/99

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 :)

-DuvalMagic


********
08/20/99

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

http://www.pcparadox.com/Editorials/Choice/Choice.shtml

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.

-DuvalMagic



********
08/05/99

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

http://www.next-generation.com/jsmid/previews/11371_1.html

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!

-DuvalMagic


********
08/02/99

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
life.

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


-DuvalMagic


********
07/30/99

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.


-DuvalMagic


********
06/14/99

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.

insane01.dm3
insane02.dm3

-DuvalMagic


********
6/3/99

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


Programmer:

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

********
4/25/99

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

-DuvalMagic
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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