So, I found out a couple of days ago that Valve put out a free sort-of-level of Half Life 2 as a tech demo for some lighting engine they’d worked up.
I quite enjoyed Half Life 2, regardless of the lack of ending, and while I’m putting off playing the “episodes” until they’ve released the last of them, I figured I should track down this thing, called “Lost Coast”, and give it a try.
For the record, in the space of playing a 15-20 minute long level – which was pretty neat, by the way – I managed to get stuck hard enough that I needed to look up a hint on the net.
In my defense, I only got that stuck because I ran in to a bug; there’s a point where you blow something up and it’s supposed to damage some of the environment in a way that lets you get through, but when I blew it up, it didn’t actually complete its script so I COULDN’T progress.
Still, it was pretty embarassing.
Oh, I had to install Steam for this thing.
I have in the past looked at Steam rather critically.
Honestly, I still think it is astonishing that Valve has pulled it off; they’ve managed to convince legions of gamers that they are to be trusted, and even though they’ve shown in the past that they can cut off your access to content you’ve paid for, leaving you with no recourse, they remain in the good graces of what seems like the majority. There comes a point where you have to take a leap of faith, that they wouldn’t have gotten this level of trust without earning it in some way.
So, I may even make the odd purchase on it in future, with the following caveat:
I don’t, as a rule, pirate games and haven’t felt the need to since I was, oh, roughly 17 or so, so over half my life ago. That marked the point where the amount of money I could spend on games meant that I had enough games TO play that they could occupy all the free time I could devote to games, so if I went and pirated stuff it would just be adding stuff I didn’t have time to play to the piles of games I’d actually spent money on and didn’t have time to play.
If I buy stuff via Steam, and then Valve decides to muck around with me, I’m not going to feel shame in going to any lengths necessary to get my digital “stuff” back.
At the moment, Steam is in my good graces. They gave me the bonus level I mentioned, and a Portal demo and a couple of other freebies, and when I put in the serial number from my thrift-store-purchased retail copy of Half Life, they gave me the two expansions – Blue Shift and Opposing Force – free of charge, threw in Counterstrike, and added in a couple other online deathmatch style games. It’s not hard to be in my good graces when you seem to be falling over backwards to give me Free Stuff.
We’ll see how it progresses.