Valve Unpeels The Orange Box


Unpeel the Orange

Valve was at the World Cyber Games 07, and they were heavily pushing “The Orange Box” for both the PC and Xbox 360.  Not only did the Valve booth feature Half-Life 2 Episode 2 on huge 30-inch PC monitors, but they had several stations where people could experience Team Fortress 2’s multiplayer capabilities.  I had a chance to chat with some of the folks at Valve, who answered some questions about the game and its new technical prowess.

The Orange Box ships Tuesday at midnight for both the Xbox 360 and PC, and is one of the most anticipated titles this year. The PC version is available via Steam, so there’s no need to go stand in line for it.  Although there is no “Orange Box” listing on your Steam account, all of the seperates will be listed as available when you purchase The Orange Box online.

For those who have been living under a Rock, “The Orange Box” is basically a compilation of 5 different games: Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Portal, and Team Fortress 2.  While many PC gamers may already have the first two titles, this is the first time that any of these are available on the Xbox 360.

Many Half-Life fans were expecting more frequent chapters when Valve announced episodic installments of Half-Life 2 (these episodes take place directly after the events of Half-Life 2).  It has been over a year since Half-Life 2: Episode One graced our screens, but the developers haven’t been sitting idly by.

The developers at Valve have taken the time not only to develop engrossing gameplay for Episode Two, but have updated the Source game engine to compete with all the new eye-candy in games like Bioshock and Lost Planet: Extreme Condition.  The game is not DirectX10 (which would require users to use Vista), but the new Source engine now supports motion blur, a particle system, and HDR rendering. Additionally, the game engine now has multi-threading support to utilize those new-fangled multi-core CPUs.

I asked how the multi-threaded support is utilized in the new Source engine (unofficially referred to as Source 2.0), as the PC version for Lost Planet (also available via Steam) allows you to specify how many cores to use.  Valve’s PR rep mentioned that the engine automatically uses any additional processors that are available, and uses what it needs when it needs them.  It is even possible for a multiplayer server to sit on one core while the client works on second.