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I just want my games to be fair - I must admit, I despise bits in games where, if I fail, I feel as though there was no way of avoiding it. Every HL I've played has had an element of that, although it has got a lot better I'll admit. I think the bit in the tunnels has that in it as well... I remember trying to run past some big fucker on a ridge over a bottomless pit. It felt like trial and error to me and I hated it.

Probably explains why I hate Limbo so much and have no intention of ever playing Dark/Demon Souls...

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I just want my games to be fair - I must admit, I despise bits in games where, if I fail, I feel as though there was no way of avoiding it. Every HL I've played has had an element of that, although it has got a lot better I'll admit. I think the bit in the tunnels has that in it as well... I remember trying to run past some big fucker on a ridge over a bottomless pit. It felt like trial and error to me and I hated it.

Probably explains why I hate Limbo so much and have no intention of ever playing Dark/Demon Souls...

DS is never, ever unfair. If you mess up it always your own fault. One of the most rewarding games I've played in many a while but that's for the DS thread.

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I can't think of a single bit in any HL game which is trial and error. The only really annoying fiddly bit is the platforming sections towards the end of HL1 in the bad Xen section. I suppose some of the puzzles are a bit "err, umm, oh, stick that in there, ah, hmm, ok" but you're never in any danger while you're doing those.

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The bit in the citadel in Episode 1 where you have to shoot falling stuff with the gravity gun before it smashes the glass elevator you're standing on. That was frustrating trial and error.

But generally, it feels like Valve know that dying and replaying in a linear game sucks, but feeling like you only just made it is good. That's why you can't avoid taking damage, but more health packs appear when your hurt, and health packs heal you more when you're hurt. They want you to be constantly fearing you're about to fail, but ideally rarely actually die.

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The bit in the citadel in Episode 1 where you have to shoot falling stuff with the gravity gun before it smashes the glass elevator you're standing on. That was frustrating trial and error.

Really? I never got caught out by debris in that, my only issue what that I didn't realise I was supposed to shoot it away rather than trying to grab it. I kept piling it up on the lift. (Tidily.)

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The stuff in the caves in episode 2 was awful. Twitchy and quick save dependant.

Twitchy doesn't, to me, mean a challenge. It means annoying with constant hits of a function key.

I'd like them to design a HL removed from quick save. I think it would make a huge improvement.

To me it means I'm actually challenged, it means I have to keep my eyes open and react to threats in a fast and precise manner. If they removed that it'd be just an interesting story with some dull shooty bits and if I wanted that I'd go watch a damn film.

Probably explains why I hate Limbo so much and have no intention of ever playing Dark/Demon Souls...

Then you've really really misjudged demons souls.

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The bit in the citadel in Episode 1 where you have to shoot falling stuff with the gravity gun before it smashes the glass elevator you're standing on. That was frustrating trial and error.

I don't recall it being anything like 'trial and error'.

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It might make you all happy to hear that Valve got obsessed with Demon's Souls when it came out (I saw a vid where they were talking about it) and they said most of the office were playing it obsessively and talking about it non-stop. Makes me wonder if it'll have any bleed into HL3 :)

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The tunnel parts in Episode 2 were a bit crap. I didn't like the part where I had to use those turrets for protection, and I absolutely hated the bits with the "icky" stuff in the Antlion nest. Defending your position from waves of brain dead enemies, and having to wade through horrible nests of grubs and insects isn't my idea of what makes the Half Life series great.

Oh, and I didn't think much of the final battle against the Striders and Hunters either.

Seriously, Valve can do (and have done) a lot better than that. They just need to concentrate a bit more on physics puzzles and exploration/discovery, and a bit less on arcade gun battles.

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The bit in the citadel in Episode 1 where you have to shoot falling stuff with the gravity gun before it smashes the glass elevator you're standing on. That was frustrating trial and error.

I believe they patched it to make it easier. It was apparently a lot trickier on release.

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Oh, and I didn't think much of the final battle against the Striders and Hunters either.

Wha-! The constant, frenetic onslaught against two of the most awesome enemies in the Half-Life series? The mad, panicked dash for new bombs as a horde of beasts attack from all angles, smashing your outposts one by one? That blessed sigh of relief as that last Strider goes down outside your base door at the final, crucial moment?

Seemed OK to me.

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The AI for HL2's Combine is actually a lot more advanced, but the Combine aren't the bullet sponges that the marines of HL1 were. The marines genuinely don't have much more AI than 'move', 'throw grenade', and 'stand still and shoot', but they shout out commands (that have no relevance) and do a decent bit of damage and can take damage in return.

The Minerva mod makes the Combine tougher, and they instantly seem like cleverer foes since they survive long enough to put their AI to use - stuff like cutting the pie when turning corners, intelligent flanking, all that.

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Well, they were brilliant at the time - hence 'were' rather than 'are'. They don't seem so special if you go back and play it nowadays. But then neither do so many of the advances in HL1 or 2, because they've since become standard (the physics engine in HL2 is a good example). Good point about AI seeming more intelligent when it doesn't go down instantly.

Here's something mildly interesting from Marc Laidlaw:

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The AI for HL2's Combine is actually a lot more advanced, but the Combine aren't the bullet sponges that the marines of HL1 were. The marines genuinely don't have much more AI than 'move', 'throw grenade', and 'stand still and shoot', but they shout out commands (that have no relevance) and do a decent bit of damage and can take damage in return.

The Minerva mod makes the Combine tougher, and they instantly seem like cleverer foes since they survive long enough to put their AI to use - stuff like cutting the pie when turning corners, intelligent flanking, all that.

Oh god I'm behind on my FPS terminology!

I'm old!!!

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Excellent questions Morrius. Pretty much the stuff I always wanted to know as well.

I'm curious though, how many e-mails have you sent in total to Valve HQ and how many of those got a reply?

It's just a copy paste, that's not me asking :)

I agree, good questions. Personally I've sent laidlaw 5-6 mails which have all had replies. I've had two replies from Gabe and sent about five.. One message I sent was a fairly long 'you stiffed the Europeans' message after the ARG. He sent a simple reply of 'noted and discussed, thanks'.

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