Half-Life 2

Platform(s): PC, Xbox
Genre: Action
Publisher: Vivendi
Developer: Valve

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Valve Uses Softimage/XSI Exclusively For 'Half-Life 2'

by Thomas on May 16, 2003 @ 6:41 a.m. PDT

In Half-Life 2 the player again picks up the crowbar of research scientist Gordon Freeman, who finds himself on an alien-infested Earth being picked to the bone, its resources depleted, its populace dwindling. Freeman is thrust into the unenviable role of rescuing the world from the wrong he unleashed back at Black Mesa. And a lot of people people he cares about are counting on him.

The Switch to Softimage

Requiring state-of-the-art model and character tools to match the sophistication of their game engine technology, Valve, creators of best-selling games such as Half-Life and Counter-Strike, switched to the SOFTIMAGE/XSI program mid-production last year. Since then, Valve has reaped the benefits of the superior creative toolset and highly-productive workflow capabilities of the SOFTIMAGE/XSI software, as well as the unmatched level of support that Softimage provides.

"We started work on Half-Life 2 with the goal of once again leap-frogging the state-of-the-art technology in game play and character creation. Half-way through, we realized we could not achieve our goal with our existing content pipeline and therefore made the unusual move of switching mid-production to SOFTIMAGE/XSI," said Doug Lombardi, Valve's Director of Marketing. "That investment has paid for itself many times over as Half-Life 2 promises to be as much of a leap forward as the original Half-Life was 5 years ago. We could not have done it without SOFTIMAGE/XSI."

Advanced Gaming with Half-Life 2 and the SOFTIMAGE/XSI environment

Valve is making extensive use of the sophisticated character rigging and animation tools in the SOFTIMAGE/XSI software to bring the Half-Life 2 characters to life, using the unique nonlinear Animation Mixer and the f-curve, keyframe editing, and powerful deformation tools. Using the latest SOFTIMAGE/XSI technology enhancements, models can be created at high-resolution and their details 'baked' into lower-resolution, GPU-optimized models that the Half-Life 2 engine can display, taking full advantage of all the latest graphics hardware available in today's advanced gaming systems. A uniquely-flexible and productive environment, the SOFTIMAGE/XSI software also includes many other specialized features dedicated to game-art creation, including rich polygon mesh modeling, completely programmable real-time shaders, custom properties that can be applied to any model component, and an extensive file I/O SDK.

Driving the Convergence of Games and Cinema

"As the games market proliferates and takes center stage in entertainment media, there is a growing mainstream audience demanding cinematic production values from interactive entertainment," said Gabe Newell, managing director and co-founder of Valve. "In contrast to all other art tools we evaluated, only SOFTIMAGE/XSI provided us with the breakthrough capabilities we needed to meet these increased expectations. Softimage delivers tools that match and often anticipate the technology and artistic advances we're making with our products."

As an established leader with 17 years of game and film software tools expertise, Softimage is at the forefront of the convergence of cinematic production values and game development. Driven by the requirements of the world's most demanding game productions, the SOFTIMAGE/XSI environment provides artists and game developers with the industry's widest range of tools in a single unified nonlinear 3-D environment to deliver a competitive advantage by enabling richer and more visually sophisticated results to be produced in less time.

"Valve ranks among the most innovative and forward-thinking game developers in the world. It's a tremendous vote of confidence in the software and the company that Valve could take our SDK and deploy SOFTIMAGE/XSI mid-production," said Gareth Morgan, Softimage's product manager for interactive media. "An even greater testimony is Half-Life 2, which I know will amaze and enthrall gamers worldwide for years to come."

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