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Lombardi:  Doom  Single-Player Mode Helped Birth  Half-Life

Lombardi: Doom Single-Player Mode Helped Birth Half-Life Exclusive

August 5, 2008 | By Chris Remo, Staff

August 5, 2008 | By Chris Remo, Staff
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Valve's Doug Lombardi says the success of Half-Life and its sequel paid dividends in both resources and inspiration that continue to be invested in new titles and technology, permanently setting the company's quality bar -- but how did Half-Life make its ascent in an era where everyone was chasing Quake?

"We've been very fortunate in the success of our early games, and being careful to make sure that every game after Half-Life sort-of lived up to a quality bar that was set by that," Lombardi said in a recent interview with Gamasutra.

The breakout success of the original Half-Life was especially notable considering it debuted in an era where Quake-chasing and the burgeoning multiplayer space was the focus for many.

But Valve co-founders Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington, Lombardi said, "really wanted to go back to their single-player experience of Doom."

"They wanted to go back and take a look at what they felt when they played Doom in single-player, and expand on that, and put more story, and more acting, character development, and that type of stuff," Lombardi said.

"So, it was a good fortune of timing, to be zagging while everyone else was zigging, or whatever the cliché is, that I think we hit a sweet spot for people."

The era's less-than-ideal connectivity, Lombardi said, "made it a pain in the ass" to play many multiplayer games, and Half-Life happened to arrive at a time when there was an itch needing to be scratched.

"And then I think there's also that idea of your first game, or your first album in the music industry, that puts you on the map tends to be a hallmark that people remember you by," he added.

"They also have a reminiscence, or whatever the right word is for it, but there's a certain charm about the first game that you played from a certain company, if you've followed that company, or that band, or that studio, or whatever.

"Half-Life was a great game - not to take anything away from it - but I think that all those factors sort of contribute to people keeping it in its special place."

[Gamasutra also spoke to Lombardi about Valve's acquisition of Turtle Rock, and getting over EA's "boogeyman" stigma.]


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