Technological Dissonance: Valve's free lunch

Our new "weekly" column, Technological Dissonance, is back with a timely look at how Valve Software's Half-Life became far and away the most popular online action game. In the wake of yesterday's release of version 1.0 of Counter-Strike, Geoff raises some intriguing and sure-to-be controversial questions, comparing Valve's freebies to the efforts of first-person shooter giants Epic and id Software.
Fast forward to today, and the Half-Life engine is the ultimate platform for mod authors. It's got brand-new netcode (from the upcoming Team Fortress 2 engine), new features that let mod authors make just about any kind of game they want, new maps, new models, even a new in-game graphical interface. In short, Valve has transformed what was once a meager multiplayer platform into the most popular one in the online community with constant patching and upgrading.
I can't say I agree with him entirely, but Geoff makes his case well. Not bad for a Canadian.
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