Valve’s Orange Box Celebrates it’s 10th anniversary

by | Oct 11, 2017 | Videogames

Valve’s Orange Box Celebrates it’s 10th anniversary

by | Oct 11, 2017 | Videogames |

Ten years ago, the Orange Box came to stores and changed the course of games forever. It included Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal. For the price of a single game, Valve released five different games in one package, one older title and four new ones. Each game important enough to support that price tag all their own.

The impact of the Orange Box is hard to downplay. Starting with Half-Life 2, Valve set the bar for story-telling and user experience. A commentary mode allowed players to see just how Valve created a level of polish that no game has since reached. This extends from details such as shaders in water – wanting varying depths of water to act as real varying depths of water do to sunlight – to years of time spent mastering the art of NPC eye movement and engagement.

Valve also meticulously planned out Alyx Vance, the partner to Gordon Freeman through the Half-Life 2 series, to make her an ideal ally. Time was spent culling and re-recording her dialogue so she would never needle the player with “This way!” commentary or pester the player about keeping up. Ironically, though Valve set a precedent for how to do a companion right, and even showed in their commentary the process they went through to create it, numerous games since have sidled players with irritating, frustrating, and awful companions while Alyx stands the test of time as truly likeable and welcome in the Half Life 2 series.

TF2 celebrates its 10th anniversary

Following Half-Life 2 was the much anticipated Team Fortress 2. Team Fortress 2 is hands down one of the most successful online FPSs of all time, not only for its immaculate detail in balance and map design, but by the fact that no other game can boast such a loyal and devoted fan base an entire decade after its release.

The game continues to inspire fans and creators alike. The style of Team Fortress 2 was intentionally crafted by Valve to be ‘timeless’, a cartoony style that couldn’t much be improved upon with age and which would keep the game feeling fresh long past its shelf life. It also brought to the forefront and mastered the payload, capture point, and capture the flag styles of gameplay. Heavy hitters like Overwatch are often compared to Team Fortress 2 for their similarities in style – cartoonish over realistic – and for the similar nature in maps and designs. If Blizzard is taking notes from you, you can feel fairly certain you’ve done pretty well on the development side.

portal 10th year anniversary

Lastly came Portal, a game developed mostly in secret and with little to no hype or marketing done upon its release. Portal not only changed gaming, it changed what developers thought was possible. Portal was a game that pushed the limits of creativity and physics based engines to make convoluted, complex, and amazing puzzles and maps. It also showed a style of story-telling and humor that had not been seen in games for years.

It redefined humor in games, creating a slew of memes and inspirations that will outlive the game by many decades. It also catapulted Valve to the forefront of developers and raised the company, and Gabe Newell, to the status of gaming legends.

The Orange Box proved to be a treasure trove to the gaming world. It challenge and changed genres, redefined development, and determined a course of fan and community involvement that would become the staple of Valve’s business model.

Are we disappointed that we didn’t hear any announcements from Valve involving a 3 today? Absolutely. But we wouldn’t give up any of what Valve has given us to date, especially not a decade of inspiration and creativity spawned from a single, magic thing called the Orange Box.

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Don’t forget to check out some of our other weekly pieces, The LoL Weekly Preview, Recap and Highlight, as well as something I’m Forgetting and Week in Review.

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