Valve doesn’t have any current plans for Source Engine 2

Saturday, 14th May 2011 18:56 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Valve head Gabe Newell has said that instead of creating Source Engine 2, the firm believes it prudent to continually update the tech instead of starting on a new design.

Speaking in an extensive feature with Develop, Newell said there are “advantages on iterating on a mature and stable and shipped codebase, as opposed to starting over again.”

“I think, when you see a game like DOTA 2, you’ll see how developers can get a lot more out of Source than most companies can get from a scratch-built engine,” he offered. “I think that incremental updates model has worked really well for us. Does that mean we’ll reach some architectural tipping-point where we’ll need to change? No… so far we’ve been able to keep the engine moving ahead, robustly. I mean, I think it looks great.”

Newell also said the firm doesn’t have plans to promote its Source Engine in the way other tech firms do, and instead subscribe to the mantra use it if you like, or don’t.

“We’re really happy if another studio wants to use our engine, but we’re not going to go out there and try and muscle in on what Epic Games does,” Newell said. “A few people have used our engine, and I think a few more will find it useful now that we have a PS3 edition.

“Y’know, we’re happy if people want to use our tools. We’re also super happy if people want to use Unreal Engine. We’ve worked hard with the guys at Epic Games to integrate Steamworks into Unreal Engine, which we think will be a great solution.

“Our philosophy is always about creating the best value for our customers, but also our partners, and right now I think there’s more value for us to pursue things like the microtransaction part of Steamworks.

“I think if we’d take the microtransaction model away, and instead push harder on getting studios to sign up to Source, I think we wouldn’t be using our time nearly as efficiently.”

You can read the excellent Develop feature The Valve manifesto here.



  1. Giskard

    Microtransactions? I’d rather they make a Source Engine 2, quite frankly. Microtransactions are the plague that haunts modern gaming. Aside from Call of Duty that is.

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Phoenixblight


    Well Valve feels the opposite so if they do make Half Life 3 it will be on the Source engine at least they update and tweak it unlike some developers.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. dtyk

    In their defense, the lighting in portal 2 looked awesome. The physics was out of control too. So I think they know what they are doing… hopefully.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Gekidami

    The Source Engine needs to go at this point. Portal 2 looks really nice, but the trade off is ridiculous amounts of loading.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Giskard

    To be fair, I did not experience much loading at all. It was faster than most recent games. Try playing The Witcher, then talk loading times.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. minxamo

    Half life 3 confirmed for same old engine

    #6 4 years ago
  7. nemsis

    bring source 2 engine please

    #7 4 years ago
  8. Gekidami

    I’d rather play one of the other numerous games that come out these days that dont have 10 min of gameplay systematically broken up by loading screens.

    That bit where you fall down the lift shaft is laughable:




    #8 4 years ago
  9. DuckOfDestiny

    If they plan on updating it like this, then the engine is going to need some massive improvements for their next major game (Make that the next Half Life, you bastards!

    Although they have made some very nice changes which have been used with their latest games, there’s still a lot which the engine doesn’t do that most engines have been doing for years.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. Phoenixblight


    I didn’t remember it doing that on the PS3 not mid convo anyways theres loading to the fall then the fall with convo then loading to the new area.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. Gekidami

    ^ It didnt happen mid-conversation, but just the fact that it has to load that scene alone, then have us sit through another loading screen for the next area is stupid.

    Replaying the game, once you know where to go and all of the puzzle solutions, feels like a chore because of the loading screens. Especially if its a run just to clear up on any missing trophies. Even going through chapter select is going to have you ride a dozen loading screens till you get to where you want to go.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. Phoenixblight

    I agree with you on the loading becoming a chore on multiple playthroughs, maybe Valve can optimize the engine to reduce or eliminate the loading, I think thats more feasible than going for a new engine. Not sure just throwing some ideas. Valve wants to utilize the source engine for as long as they can it seems.

    #12 4 years ago
  13. Hunam

    The loading was really bad on Portal 2. I can’t imagine how horrible it would have been if I’d actually played it on a console instead of my nippy PC.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. darksied

    No offense to Valve, because they do try to push out quality and quantity in their games, but … the source engine is getting old. I know that graphics don’t make the game, but it’s part of it. I think that Portal 2 was a pretty good looking game (on the ps3, didn’t play it on the PC yet) but you can tell the age of the engine. I think a lot can be done with the Unreal engine as well, but it’s the same thing: you can EASILY tell nowadays (unless the game is totally different, like a top down racing game or something) when a game is made if it’s using the source or unreal engine; it’s completely obvious after like 5 minutes.

    I think it makes sense for a company who doesn’t have the know-how to make an engine to license the Unreal engine, or cryengine, or something, but a lot can be said for a new engine. Take a look at Rage (Id tech’s new engine), Battlefield 3 (frostbite 2, from DICE); those are amazing looking games that can beat down in graphics ANY of the “established” engines. I think that Valve just realizes to make a new engine would take time, and they’re already “behind” on some of the games they are known for (DOTA, Half life, etc.) that they don’t want to invest the time and money into it.

    #14 4 years ago
  15. TheWulf

    I love that part of that reads like “Why should we license out our engine when we already almost as good as own the engine of those other guys?”, that was hilarious.

    I agree, though.

    What needs to happen now isn’t new technology but better concepts. Innovation in design, interesting settings, creatively unusual gameplay mechanics, and so on. Look at Guild Wars 2 as one of my favourite examples – they’re developing on ancient hardware but they’re incorporating some really fresh and interesting new ideas into their designs.

    That’s what we need, the hardware race is dead and over, but without new ideas in game design, we’re going to stagnate. I touched on this in the THQ comments thread a bit, but what needs to happen now is that indie developers need to take chances and try things that the mainstream isn’t trying, catch them off-guard whilst they’re trying to rope in that magical omni-demographic that simply doesn’t exist.

    A few larger publishers that are smart enough could be doing this, too. Setting up dev studios just to come up with interesting premises for games, and creating prototypes based upon that, which could be turned over to development houses to be turned into complete games.

    Right now, the games industry needs to move forward with ideas as opposed to standing stock still.

    The funny thing is that when the hardware race was going on, every platform needed to prove why it was better than the others, but it didn’t do that with technology, that never happened, it proved it with high concept games. You didn’t pick a platform based on what its hardware could do, but how rich the experiences it provided were.

    It seems that at the moment, gaming in general has fallen into a rut barring a few developers, big and small, and that’s what we need to pull ourselves out of. Right up until the turn of the century we were going at full steam, then somewhere around ’03-’05 it complete dropped off, and we’ve been in a rut since, with very few games being brave enough to try anything. And that’s a shame.

    Valve is right, technology isn’t important at all any more, because if we keep going that way then capitalism won’t be able to keep up, it’ll cost more to buy these ‘incredible’ games that we’ll be able to afford, because it’ll cost so much to make them. No, stopping with the current hardware is a great idea, but… there are so many interesting ideas of the past I can point at and say that they were interesting, either due to setting or gameplay concepts. I can’t do that so much these days.

    I know what’s wrong with gaming, currently. Egotistical, yes, but I think we all do. It’s fairly obvious when you think about it. It’s just a matter of waiting for the games industry to catch up. Really, it’s not that hard to figure out, you just have to run the correlations yourself versus the history of the film industry.

    It’s all headed towards the same big mess.

    Technology won’t help, more money won’t help, ideas will help. So publishers, instead of making that new incredible engine for that amazing new game which is targeted at the mythical omni-demographic, split that body of money up into funding prototypes, which are wildly strange and interesting, each targeting a different demographic that does exist.

    But that won’t happen for a while. So… let’s sit back and wait for it to gloriously implode and collapse. When that happens, that’s when things will get really interesting.

    #15 4 years ago
  16. TheWulf


    I’m sorry. You’re completely wrong and I’ll say that you’re objectively wrong whilst I’m at it. There was an era like that and I remember it, when people actually cared about how many ‘bits’ something had despite no one truly knowing what a bit was. Atari used that to sell the Jaguar to thousands of gullible people. :>

    But these days?

    I think that these days people just want imagination and art direction, they want the setting of the game they’re playing to be impossibly beautiful and incredible, but graphics doesn’t really help with that. If you look at Bulletstorm, it isn’t the technology prowess there that hooks people and compels them to gawk, it’s the art direction.

    I’m a very visual person, so I get this. I’m a romantic, a dreamer, and this is just something that I understand implicitly. I feel that in general the games industry and gamers are catching up with this understanding, too.

    Look at Guild Wars 2 as an example, it’s one of the most beautiful games we’ve ever seen, and you don’t have to take my word for that, not at all, instead go and look it up on Youtube. It’s breathtaking. The city videos, the gameplay, the manifesto, it’s jaw-dropping stuff. And yet they develop on archaic hardware, their engine is old-hat, and despite all that the game looks stunning.


    That’s the ultimate proof of what I’m saying. And even the original Guild Wars–Prophecies, Factions, and Nightfall–look loads better than most games released today on the most modern of engines. Why is that? High production values, they care about quality, their studio is as much of an art college as it is a development house, this is something that journalists who’ve visited them muse about.

    And when you have that… that results in this!

    Some of it looks wonderfully impossible, it’s the sort of thing that catches the imagination, and parts of it look like a painting. All running on an outdated engine! Sure, the engine is necessary to show the art, but the engine only needs to be good enough to showcase that art well.

    Their engine is, and Source is pretty nice too. You don’t need a great engine to make a game as pretty as a picture. You need artists.

    I just want that myth put to rest. The engine does next to nothing. What you see in a visually impressive game is all the work of artists, who’ve concepted what you’re looking at, and have gone over iterations to make what you’re seeing as confoundingly brilliant as the end result that lies before your eyes. That’s not the engine, that’s talent.

    #16 4 years ago
  17. tracertong

    Age of the engine from the initial release doesn’t really say anything. Call of Duty: Black Ops, Modern Warfare 2, probably even Modern Warfare 3, their base code is idTech 3. That’s Quake 3. Much improved of course, but still that’s where the base is.

    #17 4 years ago
  18. darksied


    A couple of points. Yes, art direction is a big key, because without it your game looks the same as every other game on that engine. But I can look at Bulletstorm and say that it is an unreal engine game. I’m not saying the art direction or graphics weren’t great, they were, but you can start to tell. They did a better job of changing the “standard” look of the unreal engine that others (Mass Effect 1, Singularity for ex.) but you can still feel it in there.

    I wasn’t saying that you slap a new engine in there and you have a better looking game. Obviously there’s work involved and artists have the most work in getting the game to look good. BUT, a new engine gives new possibilities and in my opinion the Source engine is showing its age.

    Guild Wars 1 and 2, you can’t really make the argument for here. Those are PC only titles, where if they had been ported to the consoles, they wouldn’t look NEARLY as good because of the scaling back, memory issues, and whatnot.

    I guess my biggest problem is the “feel” of the engine, not so much of the graphics then. Let’s say every IP had its own game engine; then I think I’d be fine with it. But when I see shooter number 12 released this year that has the unreal engine in it, you know they are going to play the same in certain ways. Whenever a Valve game is released, you KNOW it is using the source engine, and certain things will play the same, like movement, certain visuals, etc. That might be my biggest problem, that feeling of, “didn’t I already play this?”

    #18 4 years ago
  19. Yoshi

    The real reason they don’t make another engine is because most PC users don’t upgrade to the latest gfx cards yearly. Valve do constant pc spec checks to keep up to date with their customers and until at least half of those customers are using up to date or nearly up to date gfx cards, they’ll keep with the Source engine.

    In other words, if they keep the pc requirement specs average they have a bigger chance of an audience. I’ve got quite a few friends that can’t play stuff like Bad Company 2 but can play Counter-Strike:Source perfect.

    #19 4 years ago
  20. Dralen

    My only real gripe with Portal 2 was the loading screen. I’m not sure what they were thinking with that loading screen, it was just awful to look at.

    #20 4 years ago
  21. Maximum Payne

    ^^ I think duo to maybe not so experience people that work on Portal 2.They are not all Valve guys I think.I can’t remember but HL2 or Portal 1 didn’t have so frequent loading ?

    #21 4 years ago
  22. tenthousandgothsonacid

    I know there’s no money in it, but I wish they’d re-issue the ps3 Orange Box using it. The original (EA job) was unplayable whereas Portal 2 on ps3 is sweeeeet :)

    #22 4 years ago
  23. TheWulf


    Considering that the graphics capabilities of a console are primitive to the latest PC hardware, there’s nothing for them to need to catch up to since there are so many cross-platform games these days.

    Get this: One of the computers in my house has a 8600GT graphics card, ancient nVidia stuff, and yet it runs Bulletstorm beautifully, including shadows. WTF? I know, right? It runs Mass Effect 2 just as well, not to mention Portal 2. So long as consoles are kept in mind, there’ll be no need to update PC hardware.

    It’s not like anything at the moment barely even calls for the GeForce 460 that I have in one of my machines, let alone some of the cards that are way more powerful than that. So even a 460 seems like a waste of money. Most things will barely even tax a 4870, and I think that’s okay, to be honest. As I said above, we’re past the hardware race nw, now we should be looking at high concept games.

    at the moment gamers think that gaming is all about your Battlefields and your Gears of Wars, but that’s because they haven’t been introduced so much to what gaming can really be. With some large publishing clout behind some experimental projects, fun things could happen. See: Mirror’s Edge, Darkspore, and the few other titles that this has happened with.

    We need more experimental titles.

    #23 4 years ago
  24. TheWulf


    Give me one example of an Unreal engine game looking better because it’s the latest Unreal engine, do this versus other engines. I will match you strike for strike, and as we play this little game you’ll realise that you’re wrong.

    I’m sorry but an engine doesn’t matter that much, it just needs to be good enough to showcase the artistic talent, it doesn’t need all kinds of special effects. There are some effects that I believe are actually detrimental to the art style of a game.

    One example is certain shaders mixed with bump-mapping that makes everything look like it’s created from mixes of plastic, latex, and rubber. That’s something I struggle to get rid of with any Unreal engine game I play, and one of the engines most guilty of this? You got it, the Unreal engine! Plasticity all the way, dude! Unreal is horrible with that.

    Seriously, whomever came up with bump-mapping combined with shiny shaders needs to be removed from any and all forms of technology, along with the developers that overuse it.

    It’s been a problem in every damn Unreal engine game I’ve ever played, but interestingly it’s not a problem in source. Huh, go figure. And that’s because Valve actually realise what makes for a good visual experience, which is something that the Unreal engine guys have yet to learn.

    Yes, you can make a compelling visual experience with Unreal engine, but that was the artists of People Can Fly doing that, no one else, and they would’ve had an easier time doing so with Source.

    Less variables to contend with, and less damn people with rubber skin.

    In fact, if you play the Portal levels that are found in The Ball, you see that selfsame bump mapping & refraction trick going on there, and it actually makes Portal look a hell of a lot worse than it does in Source. Not to mention that the physics in Unreal are actually kind of floaty and fake feeling compared to Source, despite them apparently being ‘better.’

    So you’re wrong about the engine. The likes of Source and whatever engine the Guild Wars 2 dev are using (I forget the name of it) are perfect for making beautiful looking games. The more advanced engines get, they actually start to detract from the art.

    This may go some way to explain one of the better looking games available in 2011 is Guild Wars from 2005.

    And Guild Wars I can make the argument for because Guild Wars 1 is designed to run on lower end hardware than WoW. Now if you look at the fact that DC Universe Online is available for the PS3, and how that actually looks worse than Guild Wars, then maybe you’ll begin to start putting this together in your head.

    Yes, Guild Wars could run on a console.

    So the point is is that until you can show me a game that looks better than Guild Wars because of the engine, you’re incorrect. Sometimes you just need to admit you’re wrong and bow down. Seriously, the engine is not the be all and end all. And the amusing part? I say this as both an artist and a coder geek, I’m in a fairly unique position, here. :P

    #24 4 years ago
  25. TheWulf

    Just to make a point – there’s a shot from Mass Effect. Dude looks like he’s wearing a rubber facemask.

    See, this is exactly what I’m talking about. In reality, the things we see that are shiny like that are either plastic, rubber, latex, or gloss paint. Skin doesn’t do that except for under certain circumstances when wet (from sweat or being oiled), except it isn’t wet there, so it invites this horrible uncanny valley feeling.

    The game would’ve looked better without that much refraction going on on the face, because it makes the face look glossy and thus–if you’ll excuse the pun–unreal.

    This is an example of an engine actually detracting away from what the artists are actually trying to show and making the proceedings more unsettlingly artificial than they need to be.

    #25 4 years ago
  26. Christopher Jack

    @24, Define art. Some people claim Crysis is uninspired & others say it’s absolutely beautiful, no one’s wrong in this scenario because it’s all opinion. My point is, art can only be defined by opinion.
    So can an engine define a games artistic appearance? Sure but as always, it’s up to the developers to make proper use of it.
    @25, How do you know that he’s not oily? :P

    #26 4 years ago
  27. YoungZer0

    To be honest, i doesn’t look like VALVE has any plans at all.

    And to add to the whole Engine Discussion. I might be in the minority, but whenever i play Half-Life 2, or a mod powered by the Source Engine, i feel sick after a few hours, it’s probably the engine, or the art-design, everything looks so bland and sickening that i just don’t feel swell playing it.

    Vampire Bloodlines is probably the only exception.

    Never had these problems playing a game powered by the Unreal Engine.

    #27 4 years ago
  28. Erthazus

    Source Engine does not need a change. It’s a perfect engine for what it is.

    Some people don’t like it, some people like it. Looking at Portal 2, maybe textures looked a bit crappy but everything else looked current gen.

    #28 4 years ago
  29. YoungZer0

    @28: As current Gen as Modern Warfare 3. You and your double standards never seize to amaze me.

    #29 4 years ago
  30. dtyk

    @29′s comment

    Oh snap, shit just got real

    Anyways, I think that the current source engine is good and should be kept. It renders sterile and industrial environments very well. Vegetations not so much.

    For Half Life 3 though, I definitely expect a new engines. All the Half Life games have always been graphically ground breaking or at least impressive. The third one d be no less so.

    That being said, if they can update the engine on all current source engine games, that would be sick. ALthough I don’t think it’s probable.

    #30 4 years ago

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