David Speyrer was interviewed for his job at Valve on the day the original Half-Life went gold in late 1998. He started working there soon after, just as Half-Life 2 began its lengthy development. Since then, he%26rsquo;s risen through the ranks from programmer to project lead. Now, David talks us through some of the processes that led to Half-Life 2: Episode Two being the remarkable game it is. Warning: if you haven%26rsquo;t played Episode Two yet, there are spoilers ahead.
Has Episode Two taken you anywhere near where you%26rsquo;d thought the games would head after Half-Life 2? The escape-from-the-city buddy story?
David Speyrer: No. Well, during Half-Life 2%26rsquo;s development, there were times when it was incredibly difficult to predict what the product would look like at the end.
That%26rsquo;s part of the huge monolithic development cycle- they feel very unpredictable. At the beginning of Episode One, we did have a pretty good road map story-wise of where we wanted to go, broadly speaking. We knew we wanted to get to the event which concludes Episode Two. We didn%26rsquo;t know all the details of how to get there, and a lot of that%26rsquo;s driven by gameplay experiments- what succeeds and what fails directs the story quite a bit.
But we had a story to tell about Advisors and about Alyx and about the struggle of the Resistance versus the Combine. We had goals for things like setting- wanting to take players into more open environments. The final battle is an example of a scenario we were interested in exploring. Really broad, non-linear combat with a freeform epic feel. But no, we couldn%26rsquo;t predict Episode Two as clearly back then.