A pair of intriguing independent PC games have recently hinted or revealed that they are using Valve Software's Source game engine, shining further light on possible forthcoming games for Steam, Valve's digital content delivery service. One is the return of an old Half-Life mod, re-imagined with the Source engine, and the other is a potentially well-regarded Independent Games Festival 2006 entry.
They Hunger: Lost Souls is a PC-based follow-up to They Hunger, Neil Manke's horror-themed Half-Life mod. The game is a completely new version of the game, rather than just a graphical update, and is set in 1960s Eastern Europe as the main character tries to fend off a zombie invasion. The mod is developed by Black Widow Games, and has thus far been simply announced as a Source Engine game, but Valve's continuing support of former Half-Life mods appears to make it likely that Steam distribution will be an eventual destination.
The second title, Narbacular Drop, an already-released PC indie game developed by Nuclear Monkey Software while the members of the development team were at the DigiPen Institute of Technology, uses a unique system of portals to navigate through a maze. The player can choose any two endpoints for the portal, and look through to the other side before crossing, and a physics system adds depth to this tortuous puzzle game.
The original version of Narbacular Drop has already been entered in the Main Competition at the 2006 Independent Games Festival, and a news update on Nuclear Monkey's website from earlier in 2005 raves: "Life is really strange sometimes. Like sometimes you make a kick ass student game project. And then the heads of Valve might see that project. And before you know it, they want to contract your entire team to make that game in the Source Engine."
With these two announcements, it seems likely that Valve is continuing to develop externally-sourced content for Steam with the help of independent developers, hoping to grow the service into one of the pre-eminent content delivery systems for cutting-edge PC games, backed by the popularity of Half-Life 2. Also confirmed as being forthcoming through Valve's Steam in the next few weeks and months, beside titles such as the Half-Life 2: Lost Coast expansion, are Flying Lab's MMO Pirates Of The Burning Sea, which will exclusively be distributed via Steam, as well as Ritual's SiN Episodes Source-engine powered episodic gaming series.