Valve finished with ‘isolated’ single-player games?

The interwebs are buzzing with news that Valve may be finished with single-player games, at least as we know them. Oh, my. The claim comes from journalist Geoff Keighley’s The Final Hours of Portal 2, a $2 iOS app that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the development of Valve’s latest opus. In the iDocumentary, Keighly says the sentiment came directly from Valve head Gabe Newell and project manager Erik Johnson. Kotaku has the goods for those without iOS devices.

"Portal 2 will probably be Valve’s last game with an isolated single-player experience," Keighley wrote in Final Hours, "What this all means is something Newell is still trying to figure out."

Keighley admits that the comment is "curious," but Valve appears to be in no rush to clarify things one way or another. The Final Hours of Portal 2 has been available for five days now, and one would think the folks at Valve have seen the final cut.

Before you get too worked up about what this means for Episode 3, take a closer look at the actual quotation. Newell is referring to an "isolated single-player experience" like the one offered by Portal 2, which has a separate co-op campaign. That’s a little different than what Valve did with Left 4 Dead 2, whose single-player experience takes you through the co-op campaign with AI-controlled companions at your side. Sounds a lot less isolated to me.

If Newell is still trying to figure things out, Valve’s intentions probably aren’t set in stone. The prospect folks won’t be able to play Episode 3 on their own seems unlikely. However, they may well be playing through the same environments and story as those tackling a co-op campaign. Thanks to Rock, Paper, Shotgun for the tip.

Comments closed
    • Silus
    • 9 years ago

    All I have to say is….LOL!

    Valve is pissing on its fans and the fans still don’t believe it and are actually liking to be pissed on!
    You know, Valve promised Episode 3 at the end of 2007. Guess what…it’s 2011 and it’s not going to be released this year either.

    Go on and continue to buy 6 hours worth of gameplay for $60 from Valve. Valve is getting the message that you love it, while never giving you what they’ve been milking for years (especially with their ridiculous Episodic Content approach)

    • albundy
    • 9 years ago

    “Valve finished with ‘isolated’ single-player games?”

    Thats OK. i kinda finished buying games from Valve in general. nothing appealing about their games anymore. Arn’t all single player games isolated?

    • burntham77
    • 9 years ago

    Perhaps this means that you will have companions in future games, much like Alyx Vance.

    • Bensam123
    • 9 years ago

    This sounds like a misquote taken out of context on accident. Doubt Valve will can all single player experiences.

    • Prospero424
    • 9 years ago

    Do this many people REALLY still think that Valve is working on an expansion for a game that came out seven years ago? Face it: Episode 3 is dead. Whatever they had planned for it will have to wait for Half Life 3 or whatever will be the next installment of the Gordon Freeman saga. And at this point, having been so long since the game’s release, I’m perfectly fine with that.

    That being said, I think Geoff’s interpretation of the comment are correct. They’re not “done” with single-player games in the sense that you would be forced to play with someone online or not play at all. I think they’re just done with single-player ONLY games in that any campaign they put out in the future will be ready for co-op play as an option with an AI companion as a fallback. And that’s great!

    But yeah, it’s time to give up on Ep 3. We aren’t getting it. Time to move on.

    • fantastic
    • 9 years ago

    I love Portal, but if they’re done with SP, I’m done with them. Servers are problematic and they aren’t paying for my internet connection. I only get so many bits per month, according to my ToS.

    Demanding I play nice with others… Eff off, Valve!

    • puppetworx
    • 9 years ago

    I never really got into Half-Life, am I alone on this?

    I’ve always liked computer games for their competitive aspect. My name topped the leaderboard on Crazy Taxi at the local arcade for years during high school for example – though given that a single high-scoring game lasted well over 2 hours my name also came bottom of the school attendance record; two feats I was equally proud of.

    Given my love of competitive gaming I’m not at all bitter on hearing this news from Valve. I do enjoy game narrative, but ultimately most of my enjoyment comes from fragging or making random friends in game. L4D was a surprisingly brilliant game which satisfied both of these interests and if that’s the direction Valve wants to expand beyond then I’m all for it.

      • paulWTAMU
      • 9 years ago

      I never liked it so much either…but I do prefer SP as a rule.
      Half Life was fun, but it wasn’t the 2nd coming or anything. And valve…I love steam on the whole, and L4D 1 and 2 were great…for the 15 bucks or so I paid for them…but I’d have been pissed if I paid 60 for ’em.

    • Cuhulin
    • 9 years ago

    I’m sorry to hear this. I liked HL a lot.

    With or without multi-player elements, single player games do a lot that cannot be done as well in a multi-player context. As some have noted already, story-telling is harder to do in a multi-player world.

    I travel a lot, and hotel internet quality often is an issue, so a multi-player game just isn’t an option. A single-player game, even with internet authentication, just works more reliably.

    It’s Valve’s right to make and sell the games they want, but this is a sorry event.

    • Malphas
    • 9 years ago

    Co-op games are boring and lack depth, might as well go play go play two-player on Altered Beast for the Megadrive than something like Left 4 Dead or Borderlands; they both offer the same repetitive, shallow gameplay and lose my interest after about five minutes.

    On another note, does anyone even give a crap about Episode 3 anymore? The original Half-Life was great but the sequel was just a meandering mess and a thrown together shambles of a plot, sloppily pieced together out of 1984 and War of the Worlds that never offered a proper conclusion. (Oh, and to add insult to injury there’s the unwelcome addition of a female character I’m supposed to care about despite the fact Gordon was always a silent protagonist with no defined motives prior to this point – I guess that since I’m playing a game I must automatically be a nerd who appreciates having a “hot chick” addition – oh and she’s a bit useless and needs the player to come to the rescue on several occasions, making it typically sexist towards female gamers as well, two stereotypes with one stone.) The episodes were a pointless chore then still didn’t drive the plot anywhere, and the final installment as been delayed for about a millenia while Valve churn out cheap, crappy co-op and multiplayer titles instead. No wonder they’re finished with single-player games, they’ve probably forgotten how you even make a good one.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    Stopped liking MP games after age 30. At that time I could never get friends/family to settle on a consistent time to play, and strangers online left a bitter taste in my mouth. I play games for the most part to immerse myself in a world, not compete or get achievements or be on a leaderboard. I’ll never be anywhere near the top tier player in any game again, so I don’t really see why I must tailor my game playing towards that?

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 9 years ago

      I think they are going more toward a co-op system that a tradition multiplayer experience.

      So you really just need 1-3 friends to coordinate with.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    Co-op is fun and so is vs multiplayer but you can’t do narrative the same way you can with a good isolated sp game. Sorry Gabe to hear you won’t be making anymore masterpieces like portal, portal 2, half-life, half-life 2, etc. If this is to be taken the way it sounds it would seem that they struggle to appeal to gamers with their sp experiences or that they see MP as being where the money is. Either way I’m sad to hear there say this.

    • superjawes
    • 9 years ago

    Hey Gabe, instead of figuring what “that” means, why don’t you just get Episode 3 finished already?

    • Meadows
    • 9 years ago

    I grew up with isolated single player games, and I respect Valve like I do few companies, but if they make this move then that’ll be the last time I buy anything from them.

    Edit: I never played the L4D series exactly because the game itself offers little to me and is dependent on other players for the optimum experience. I did, on the other hand, enjoy Crysis for example. The original one I mean.

      • xtalentx
      • 9 years ago

      I can totally see you not meshing well in multiplayer games. No surprise here..

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        And you would be wrong, but I bet that’s not the first time. I have a following on Quake Live for example and am quite the entertainment focal point. Same with WoW, that is, back when I still played (I might return soon, if only for the pretty colours and the druid porn).

        Otherwise though, I find lots of multiplayer games essentially pointless. This applies to games like Call of Duty, Portal 2, Counter-Strike, and any similar games. They’re either extremely constricted, or loaded with too many stupid perks for player characters, or – god save us – both.

        It’s a good multiplayer game for me when the freedom reaches a certain threshold, and every player is on a technically equal footing. Yes, this disqualifies Blizzard games in pure theory, but they spend such ridiculous amounts of time balancing their crap that I’m inclined to include those games anyway. Plus they’re fun, as common knowledge would have it.

        Based on the above, I think a good multiplayer game can be a racing game (in arcade mode – money and upgrades lead to stupid perks and hollow advantages over each other again). Or it can be any Quake version. Or good lord, it can be chess. But deliver us from CoD clones and rank upgrades and “class-based shooters” and whatnot because it’s ridiculous. I own the Orange Box for example, yet haven’t spent more than 2 hours with Team Fortress 2.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 9 years ago

          Everyone in Left4Dead in on equal footing, so I’m still curious why you never tried it.

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            I’m not going to pay such serious cash for a character-infused team deathmatch clone. I can get that fix cheaper elsewhere.

            That, and I guess I’m also voting with my wallet, because I don’t want Valve developing all this garbage, I recognise it as an unnecessary distraction from Episode 3 which I would actually buy for a change. That is, unless it comes with co-op focus.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 9 years ago

            Co-op isn’t anything like team deathmatch.

            Especially the campaign or survival modes.

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            Campaign, TDM and call a different map vote. Survival, how is *that* different? The game ends sooner than normal?

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 9 years ago

            1) No respawns
            2) You are fighting the AI and level design, not other people

            Pretty huge differences imo.

      • PenGun
      • 9 years ago

      L4D and L4D2 are amazing fun and excellent practice. The mods people have made are what I mostly play. The need to headshot the horde brings ones game to a useful level with some practice.

      If I get rusty, play Fallout NV for example, then L4D can help bring my chops back.

      • WaltC
      • 9 years ago

      The irony of this whole topic is that while I have vastly preferred 25 years of single-player games to multiplayer console swill and always will (Doom and Quake bored me to tears after about ten minutes a session even with me trying hard to “enjoy myself”), I have never, ever “felt alone” when playing a single-player game–anymore so than I “feel alone” when reading a book, watching a movie or possibly even some rare television programming these days. As well, when I solo through the Internet every day, as most of us do, I never feel alone–rather, I feel positively surrounded by other people and events–but just at a comfortable arms-length distance. When I am playing a great single-player game I am always playing against [i<]the programmers[/i<] who, certainly in spirit if not in name, are with me every single second of every session I spend in their game. Alone because I prefer single-player games? Preposterous. Without so-called "single-player" gaming there is no gaming at all, I mean, if you consider that the game you play must have some kind of story that is chock full of interesting, surprising characters and an engrossing plot. When you find a game like that, as HL2, Gothic 1 and 2, and many, many more, hundreds more, certainly were, you've found a game that you can lose yourself in, much like a great book you have to tear yourself away from. But the really great and compelling difference between a great book and a great game is that *you* become directly involved in the story and to some degree decide how it turns out--which you cannot do in movies or in books, no matter how entertaining you may find them. But this "Facebook" (I call Facebook "The Book that will eat your face") trend towards wanting to involve my friends and any strangers who want in to share my life when I take a crap, take a whizz, bang my significant other, eat a pizza or drain a beer, or [i<]whatever[/i<] is the latest societal fad among the unwashed masses, the great majority of whom think the word "technology" starts with an "F", and who can't intelligently discourse on the difference between a ram chip and a mouse--but that is all A-OK so long as [i<]I get to share all of these great things[/i<] with my friends, or pals or buds or whatever they are called these days. These people often [i<]hate single player games[/i<] because they have a depth and scope that today's crop of intellectually challenged Lemmings who live and die by the Pied Piper find daunting, fearful, and depressing--because they don't "get it." They are the ones who would celebrate the death of the single-player game as just one more obstacle, erected by their own vast inferiority complexes, to [i<]fall.[/i<] Kind of like how some people rejoiced in WWII Germany whenever there was a local book-burning party to attend. I can only point out that we don't actually have a quote from Valve or Newell which either corroborates this quote or at least clarifies it to some degree. Maybe Gabe feels it is such a stupid statement to attribute to him that it doesn't deserve a response--I could understand that. Valve--indeed so many software companies--exist today only because of "the single-player game." The only possibility that occurs to me about Newell in particular is that he's making such off-hand remarks after a very bad day, or he's tired, maybe a bit burned out, or is seriously contemplating retirement--or, maybe Valve just wants to primarily coast with the Steam angle as a publisher from here on out. But, if Newell thinks they are going to make it as a game developer by peddling $2 cell-phone games--I'd say, yea, it's about time that Gabe takes a long, extended vacation in order to rearrange his substantial cache of marbles. I mean, who would want for one second to trade Valve's reputation and status as a premier game developer, able to draw tens of millions of dollars in seed money by picking up the phone, with that enjoyed by $2 indie game developers whom few on planet earth have ever heard of? But I will concede there might be some truth to this when book publishers disappear, movie production houses go bust for lack of demand, and the Internet dries up and goes away. Yea, then, I might concede that "Facebook gaming" is the only game left in town--but that's assuming there is a "town" left to be concerned about...;)

    • Krogoth
    • 9 years ago

    Not surprising at all.

    Developers and publishers are moving towards subscription-based schemes.

    Valve tasted the fruit with their experiment on TF2’s Mann Co Shop.

    It is another sign of the death of PC gaming as we know it.

      • NeXus 6
      • 9 years ago

      Fine by me. Let the small and indie developers step in and fill the void.

    • Chun¢
    • 9 years ago

    I have a very hard time believing this. They’ve had some wonderful multiplayer only games (CS:S , TF2, L4D(2)),
    but they’ve always excelled at storytelling with the singleplayer aspect of things.
    Of course, this could be like the Steam for Linux- grade rumor whoring.

    • yogibbear
    • 9 years ago

    Link is broken. 🙁

    • NeronetFi
    • 9 years ago

    Im sorry but HL3 better not be a coop game. Half-life has (IMO) one of the best single player stories.

      • fr500
      • 9 years ago

      There is no point on having hats on a single player game. Valve loves hats, so coop will be mandatory from now on

    • swaaye
    • 9 years ago

    I’ve been kinda finished with Valve since the overrated Ep1 and 2. I’m mostly into single player shooters these days anyway so I haven’t even tried out L4D, CSS or TF2. Portal was neat though, haven’t tried the sequel yet however.

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      thank you brother! Overrated they were!

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    so…. hl3 will be coop?

      • khands
      • 9 years ago

      Alex + Gordon.

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        WAIT, IS HL3 A PRON GAME?

          • ImSpartacus
          • 9 years ago

          Where the hell have you been for ten years?

          Now if you’re excuse me, I need to insert my crowbar into a naughty head crab’s mouth.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            iseewhatyoudidthere

      • LauRoman
      • 9 years ago

      That might involve Gordon Freeman speaking so i’m betting no.

    • Sahrin
    • 9 years ago

    Enough bullshit Valve. Episode 3 or GTFO.

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      I didn’t really like 2 so much, especially the episodes. Give me the remake of 1, and i’ll be happy

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        I won’t, HL2 through Episode 2 was an amazing experience.

          • sweatshopking
          • 9 years ago

          the episodes played like a chore to me. I didn’t enjoy them at all, and just finished them, because that’s what i do. I beat games.

            • indeego
            • 9 years ago

            Ditto. I did enjoy the final battle in Episode 2, but the rest of the content of the episodes was terribly dull and I just rushed through them to beat them.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 9 years ago

            I thought the Aliens homage level in Episode 2 was awesome.

            Episode 1 was pretty bad though.

          • PenGun
          • 9 years ago

          Bores me to tears. I got em’ all on sale.thankfully so no big loss.

          The Stalker mod NARODNAYA SOLYANKA is ridiculously tough and I’m just loving it. Been out for a while but I have just discovered it.

        • wujj123456
        • 9 years ago

        But there are still questions to be answered at the end of EP2. I need a complete story!

        • Farting Bob
        • 9 years ago

        We have HL1 already, why ask valve to waste their precious time (in valve time no doubt) just making slightly prettier versions of the same game? Give us a new game, and just make it worthy of the half life name.

        • Madman
        • 9 years ago

        This ^

        I don’t understand why the hate? HL1 and HL1:OF were amazing, HL2 and its episodes, meh… I finished HL2, but I think I stopped playing EP1 around 33%, or was it EP2?

        Really… Cute chick, 3D boobs with shaders? So what? HL1 was amazing and had a deep story, HL2 always felt like a rushed product that tried to build on closed storyline.

        EP3 what? Stopped caring long time ago.

        Then again it’s the usual trend nowadays, all show no go, and then they wonder why no one want’s to buy games for 70$.

        Compare Baldurs Gate:TOSC vs. Dragon Age 2, enough said…

          • A_Pickle
          • 9 years ago

          [quote<]Really... Cute chick, 3D boobs with shaders? So what? HL1 was amazing and had a deep story, HL2 always felt like a rushed product that tried to build on closed storyline.[/quote<] While I agree that Half-Life 2 was built on a closed storyline, I think that the Half-Life 1 storyline was intentionally left with an opening at the end for a sequel. That said, it didn't feel rushed, and it /[definitely]/ didn't feel sexed into popularity. Alyx Vance is cute, but she's not the typical video game heroine in which she battles increasingly dangerous foes armored with an increasingly less visible bikini (with metal on it). She seems like a real character, and that -- to me, is what makes Half-Life 2 and it's subsequent episodes excellent games. The characters are all so very good, and they aren't stupid in the game. I don't have to worry about Alyx getting into stupid situations wherein I have to rescue her, she takes good care of herself and she has good lines in the "cut scenes" as well as in the heat of battle. I felt like Half-Life 2 was awesome for it's time, and it's kinda "meh" now. Half-Life 2: Episode 1 was more of Half-Life 2 when it came out, it was far too short, so it was kinda "meh" but I was happy with it because it was just new Half-Life 2 gameplay and content. But then The Orange Box came out with Episode 2, and jesus christ that game was off-the-charts insane. I don't like the episodic release system. I liked the episodes, but... I'm sorry. If you're going to release episodes, then they have to be released faster than once a year -- that's about how long WHOLE GAMES with 30+ hours of single-player gameplay take to release. I like gaming for 5-6 hours at a time, and... with episodic releases? That means I've completed 80% of the damn game I waited a year for in one damn sitting. Screw that. If they intend to release episodically, they need to release them far more frequently. If they intend to release traditionally, then that can take a year or two depending on the comprehensiveness of the changes and content.

            • Madman
            • 9 years ago

            Released faster then once a year -> I totally agree. One year is enough to forget most nuances in the game, so unless you have fanatically played it 5 or 6 times, you don’t even understand why the episode and what was all that stuff about.

      • torquer
      • 9 years ago

      I agree – we touched on this in response to Cyril’s blog about Portal 2. This is why I’m afraid of Gabe Newell becoming like Steve Jobs and dictating to the market what we want to see and do. Of course its hard to argue with their immense success but as they say pride goeth before a fall and Newell has an ego the size of New Jersey. Anyone remember when he gave that interview lambasting Microsoft? Really Gabe? Making millions off those Linux users are ya?

      Kind of reminds me of Michael Moore making an anti-capitalist documentary and preaching about greedy rich people then suing his production partners so they have to pay him more. Hypocrisy is so sweet.

      But anyway, I loved Half-Life and Half-Life 2. I bought the episodic content because I love the story and I want to see where it goes. But just like movies sequels have a limited timespan. Eventually you just stop giving a shit about the stories and the characters and you move on. They’ve taken way too long and eventually it’ll hurt them.

      Eventually Apple will stop being the goose that laid the golden egg and I’m afraid Valve may be on that same path. Such talent there, too.

        • indeego
        • 9 years ago

        Curious where you think Gabe has a huge ego? He’s incredible humble, IMO. If you listen to game commentary, his goal is gaming pleasure, the end-user to be happy at every step of the process.

        He’s the only CEO I know of at that level that will respond to personal e-mail more often than not (I’ve thanked him for his games and he has written back non-boilerplate responses.)

          • WaltC
          • 9 years ago

          He’s simply confused body mass with ego circumference…;)

          • torquer
          • 9 years ago

          So does Steve Jobs but everyone agrees he’s a megalomaniac 😉

          Game commentary is one thing – that stuff has to pass through marketing. When you read his interviews I get the impression he’s egotistical. Maybe he’s not, and maybe if he is its justified, but Valve as a company seems to have gone from scrappy upstart to dictating to the market just like Apple does. Sometimes they are right and like I’ve said their success speaks for itself, but I still want to experience the rest of the Half-Life 2 story and see some new IP.

      • A_Pickle
      • 9 years ago

      Hell no, man. I don’t want the conclusion of that story to be some half-baked 8 hour crapshoot. It better be a 40+ hour epic tale of humanity rising against the Combine with some jaw-dropping gameplay and graphics.

        • Sahrin
        • 9 years ago

        Like Portal 2 was?

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