Source 2: it’s time for Valve to drop the baby steps

Monday, 6th August 2012 15:59 GMT By Dave Cook

Valve was rumoured today to be working Source 2. It’s time for a serious tech leap over the company’s normal increments, says Dave Cook, with one reason being the release of Half-Life 3.

Valve is a developer noted for technical mastery, a powerhouse of innovation and artistry rarely outdone. It’s absolutely the right time – with both Epic and Square going public with new tech and the next console generation settling in for a 2013 release – to apply that expertise to a full Source rework.

Counter-Strike, the first Valve game to run on the studio’s Source engine, launched in 2004. Since then, the Seattle-based developer has incrementally updated its proprietary code with all sorts of bells and whistles, but never with a full, new, numbered version.

But when eagle-eyed gamers found files embedded in Valve Filmmaker labelled with references to “Source 2″ over the weekend, the inference was obvious: could Valve be readying itself for a major leap forward in its technology, much like Epic’s advances with Unreal Engine?

You can but hope. Valve’s ‘baby step’ approach to augmenting Source may work for each new software release – bulking it it out with the specific tools to make each game run to the best of its ability – but just imagine what could be achieved with a catch-all revision.

There was a technical chasm difference between the original Half-Life – which ran on a modified Quake engine – and successor Half-Life 2. If Valve can make as significant a leap with Half-Life 3 – or whatever the next Half-Life product’s going to be – then the mind races at the possibilities.

We may have already seen a glimpse of the real-time innovation that could be in store for us whenever Valve decides to reveal its follow-up.

Just check out this leaked video from an ex-Valve employee that showed off what he claimed were real-time swarm physics from Half-Life 3.

The tech demo embodies some of the key phrases currently bandied around in relation to Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 and Square-Enix’s Luminous Engine, specifically the notion of real-time mechanics that would typically be scripted.

Valve is a developer noted for technical mastery, a powerhouse of innovation and artistry rarely outdone. It’s absolutely the right time – with both Epic and Square going public with new tech and the next console generation settling in for a 2013 release – to apply that expertise to a full Source rework.

Half-Life 3′s swarm mechanics? It’s freakin’
purdy, whatever it is.

Inevitably, talk of Source 2 has bumped up speculation of an incoming Half-Life reveal. It’s easy to reach the conclusion that Valve has spent so long developing Half-Life 3 because it’s Source 2′s maiden voyage.

The signs are all around us, in Half-Life 3 art leaks, Valve’s E3 absence and a gruelling wait now fast approaching seven years. If Source 2 and Half-Life 3 are to release hand-in-hand, the giant gap may be justified.

Rather than slam Valve’s lack of Half-Life 3 communication, gamers should relish the fact that it could launch on the next-generation of the studio’s tech. It’s been a long wait, sure, but do you want something cobbled together on the Portal 2 version of Source, or do you want a game as innovative and mind-bending as Half-Life 2?

New engines take time, money, effort, research and a reason to exist. Epic Games didn’t make Unreal Engine 4 overnight, an it certainly didn’t do it without a purpose. Valve’s purpose could be Half-Life 3, and we may not be far from finally getting the truth on Gordon’s next adventure.



  1. Len


    #1 2 years ago
  2. Pytox

    *All kneel for the gaben*

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Patrick Garratt

    It’s coming! Eventually. They have to get L4D3 out first, etc, etc.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. manamana


    #4 2 years ago
  5. Talkar

    They are obviously working on a Source 2 engine, Valve aren’t stupid they know they need to get the next version out. When is a question only Valve can answer. But it is important to note that we won’t see anything truly mindblowing. The last time we saw something that changed gaming forever was when we went from 2D games to 3D games. Nothing since then have had as profound an impact on gaming, and i reckon that the only thing that can compete with that is when we some time in the future have direct neural stimulation and as such can truly immerse ourselves in the world. Source 2 will probably be a great engine with great graphics, physics and hopefully be better documented than the first Source engine was, but again it won’t be mindblowing.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Moonwalker1982

    It has to happen when the new consoles come out. They will want to bring it out for consoles as well, so they wait for that. With that ending of Episode 2, still not having closure to that is a sin. Just like Shenmue.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Meta_Dragon

    The worst part about this would be if Half-Life ever gets released and its not a new source engine, that would mean Valved wasted time for nothing.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Kabby

    “innovative and mind-bending as Half-Life 2″

    But it wasn’t innovative or mind bending. It was derivative and mind numbing.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Ireland Michael

    @8 Derivative of what, exactly?

    What was released before Half Life 2 that came even close to its world’s consistency, size and detail? What was released before it that was anything like it?

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Erthazus

    @8, LOLWUT?

    Show me a game that is close to Half-Life 2 in 2004 then we will talk.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Edo

    @8 .

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Lewis247

    Ok, I have completely made up my mind. They knew years ago they would ramp it up with source 2 and half life 3 was the big one to use it with. Rather than let episode 3 finish off the 2 arc, make 3 with the journey to the borealis the opening to the 3rd huge installment.


    #12 2 years ago
  13. DSB

    Was there every any doubt, really?

    The only reason why Half-Life 3 would be taking as long as it did is if they were starting over on a new engine.

    That said, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be able to run that demo within the current source engine. It took a massive leap with Portal 2.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Talkar

    ^How exactly did it make a massive leap with that game?

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Gekidami

    ^ It looked noticeably better than previous Source games… But came at the cost of a ridiculous amount of loading screens.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Talkar

    ^It looked better than the other source games yes, but that is mainly due to the fact they used a different graphics style compared to for example TF2. It did of course also have a few technical improvements that made it look prettier. But to say it was a massive leap forward is just like saying the same thing about Modern Warfare 2 vs Modern Warfare 3 graphics wise. There are improvements, yes, but they aren’t massive.

    #16 2 years ago

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