Source Engine – Features, Advantages and Disadvantages

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Source Engine

The Source game engine, developed by Valve, is not as popular as, for example, Unreal Engine or Unity, but, probably, absolutely every gamer has heard about games created with its help – these are recognized masterpieces, standing on a par with Super Mario, Tetris, and GTA.

What is Source?

Development of the engine began back in 1998, when Valve was approaching the final stages of creating its first game, Half-Life. Then the game makers wanted to implement some of their ideas but did not want to risk making changes to an almost finished project. As a result, it was decided to split the code into two, so to speak, branches: GoldSource and Source. Accordingly, the first branch remained with Half-Life, and the second began to absorb innovations, gradually taking shape in the engine, on which Valve would later release its masterpiece – Half-Life 2.

The debut project on Source was the multiplayer shooter Counter-Strike: Source, released in 2004. The subtitle in the title simultaneously “separated” the game from the previous parts and served as a demonstration of the transition to the new engine. And there was something to demonstrate to the developers: in the middle of the 2000s, Source was considered an advanced machine, supporting many current technologies: mirror reflections, crisp textures, high-quality sound, a realistic physics model.

The latter, by the way, has become one of the “calling cards” of Half-Life 2, where the authors, in addition to a gripping plot and gorgeous facial animation, have implemented many puzzles tied to the physical properties of various objects. Even more, such puzzles appeared in Portal and Portal 2. However, this is a topic for another conversation – about the physics engine Havok, which works in conjunction with Source.

In the future

Valve gradually developed its toolkit, added new components to it, optimized and improved it, and also expanded the list of supported platforms. Among the features of Source, it is worth highlighting flexible scalability for any system: for weak PCs, graphics quality can be downgraded to the transition to early versions of DirectX, while powerful configurations will be able to unleash their potential thanks to multi-core rendering, dynamic lighting, particle systems, and other effects.

In 2015, the Source 2 engine was announced. Fans were waiting for new games from Valve, in particular, the continuation of the Half-Life saga, the Portal and Left 4 Dead prequels, but the list of fun on the Source 2 engine does not include many games yet: Dota 2, Artifact, Half-Life: Alyx as well as the collection of games for virtual reality devices The Lab and toolkit for creating levels for VR headsets Destinations. The engine is developed, taking into account modern technologies, supports the Vulkan API, but its prospects are still vague (like games from Valve, but that’s another story).

Why Is Source Good?

First of all, its accessibility. The Source SDK is available free to all Steam users and includes a map editor, model import/export and viewer, and facial animation tools, as well as file decompression utilities and library source files for some Valve games.

This should already be enough to create modifications and individual games, which was proven by Harry Newman, who created the famous “sandbox” Garry’s Mod, as well as numerous modders, creators of SFM videos, and other content. Developing on Source (if it’s not creating a model) requires a good knowledge of C ++.

The source is tightly integrated with the Steam Workshop, so users can easily create and add mods to games on the engine – literally by copying the mod to the game folder. The same applies to achievements, dedicated servers, and other features: thanks to the support of Steamworks, developers of mods and individual games can integrate them into Steam and take advantage of all the service’s features.

What’s wrong with Source?

Despite all the flexibility and availability of Source, the engine cannot compete with tools from other companies in terms of technology saturation. Even the newest titles from experienced studios (like Titanfall 2) look dull when compared to projects done with Unreal Engine 4 and CryEngine.

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The Valve is friendly to modders and provides its toolkit for free. But if you want to sell mods or games on the Source engine, then you have to pay to use the machine and all its components, including royalties from Havoc, Miles and/or Blink, and be sure to release the game on Steam.

Who should use Source (first of all)?

Of course, for modders who want to master game development, create a modification for their favorite project, or add a new weapon skin for CS: GO. As for the more severe studios, it is probably better for them to pay attention to other engines like Unreal Engine or Unity, where there are more features and more loyal licensing terms.

Best games on Source

Half-Life 2 (as well as Episode One / Two)

Arguably Valve’s finest game, an undying hit so disappointingly cut short in mid-sentence. An excellent storyline, memorable characters, dynamic action, ample opportunities to interact with objects, exciting multiplayer – in Half-Life 2 everything is perfect, except, perhaps, the ending, which the fans never saw.

Half-Life: Alyx

A VR prequel to Half-Life 2, dedicated to the adventures of Alix Vance. The game boasts very beautiful graphics. The widest possibilities of interaction with the world. As well as an exciting plot that finally moved the universe off the ground: the story gives more than transparent hints at the continuation of events after Half-Life 2: Episode Two.

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Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

An unfinished, uneven, buggy game that bankrupted its own developers – it’s all about Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. An atmospheric, deep, extremely addicting game that gave us an unforgettable story about vampires – all this is also about Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. Now, after hundreds of fan patches and additions. The positive qualities of the project outweigh the negative. So if you missed it at the time, it’s worth catching up to prepare for the sequel’s adventures.

Portal Dilogy

Valve has a very good nose for talented studios and interesting concepts. After seeing the student project Narbacular Drop, Gabe Newell (head of the studio) immediately offered its authors a job, resulting in the Portal series. Both parts of which are puzzles with portals and other objects. The plot gives players an interesting story with one of the best antagonists in the video game industry – this is, of course, GLaDOS.

Left 4 Dead Dilogy

A line of cooperative zombie shooters that none of the competitors have yet been able to “kill.”. The secret of Left 4 Dead lies in its well-designed gameplay, emphasis on team interaction. The presence of an AI director who makes each match unique. The ideal implementation of competitive multiplayer. In which the opposing teams are deliberately placed in different conditions.

Counter-Strike Series

The tactical shooter series, like Portal, grew out of amateur work. In Counter-Strike, the gameplay is based on the confrontation between the forces of special forces and terrorists, and players will find many modes. A large selection of weapons and a wide variety of tactics. Thanks to this, the franchise is still alive today.

Dark messiah of might and magic

A gorgeous first-person action game with RPG elements from Arkane Studios, which later gave us Dishonored and Prey. In Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, the developers actively used the capabilities of the physics engine. So players can spartanly throw monsters off cliffs. Set fire to flammable surfaces and block enemy attacks.

Dota 2

One of the two flagship games in the MOBA genre (the second, of course, League of Legends ). Loved by gamers for its large selection of heroes and a huge number of tactics. But also earned not the best reputation due to the toxic community. Nevertheless, Valve is betting heavily on Dota 2, developing the game as an esports discipline.

The Stanley parable

A parable game that has amazed the community with a unique narrative that leads to multiple endings and even breaks the fourth wall. Humor deserves no less attention – ironic, sarcastic, striking to the point. It is difficult to tell more specifically about The Stanley Parable. It’s worth playing to understand why some games can be considered art.

Titanfall / Apex Legends Dilogy

A series of hurricane shooters from Respawn Entertainment. A studio founded by former Call of Duty developers. Among the undeniable advantages of the line are the presence of huge robots: extremely dynamic firefights and stable operation even on weak PCs. Also, on the basis of Titanfall was created the “royal battle” Apex Legends, which won a huge audience thanks to the game mechanics innovative in detail for the genre.

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Zeno Clash

An unusual first-person fighting game that takes players into a fantasy primitive world. Where they have to deal with enemies using their own fists and outlandish weapons, the game implements an interesting combat system based on strikes. Dodges and blocks, and interesting visual design and an extravagant storyline will plunge you into a slight shock more than once.

Source Engine from Valve Software

Five years to develop a game is a long time, especially for those who were looking forward to the sequel. And now, finally, it happened! In the glow of spotlights, under the cannonade of a battery of bottles of champagne. One of the most anticipated games of the third millennium. Half-Life 2, smoothly and majestically descended from the stocks. Suppose the first part worked on the engine from id Software. Now Valve has provided its new game with its own engine – Source Engine. It is expected that he will be the grail that will give the company immortality, and Half-Life 2 – eternal youth. After all, the engine is a great tool for madders and game developers.

If the game came out as promised on September 30th last year – Source Engine really would be out of competition … But today, when Doom 3 has been on sale for a long time. The new Source engine will have to prove its superiority in an intense competitive struggle. The final balance of power will become clear not earlier than in 3-4 months when game developers and madders will disassemble the new inline. As they say, by screw, but some conclusions can be drawn now. Let’s take a look at the assets of the new engine.

Are games and porn the same?

Five years to develop is really a lot. During this time, it was possible to introduce a lot of the latest technologies into the engine. Invest in it not only time and money but also the soul. Work on HL2 started right after the first part was released. The team had no shortage of ideas. I really wanted to build on the success of the first games.

First, HL was born largely due to the fact that Gabe Newell ( of Gabe Newell ). The founding father of Valve, has been a big fan of Doom. If not for this, it is unlikely that a promising employee of the department of operating systems at Microsoft would have left a well-paid job in 1996 and started his own game company.

This communication with Doom and its creator – John Carmack – did not end there. The fledgling game company licensed the Quake engine from id Software for its game… However, Gabe could not agree with some of Carmack’s views. Who believed that the storyline in an action game was no more important than the plot in a porn movie.

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The concept of a virtual shooting range. The main thing is that there are a lot of monsters. That they are diverse, and the process of killing looks as effective as possible on the monitor screen. Naturally, these ideas were at the heart of the id Software game engine. It allowed us to draw the most beautiful picture on the screen at that time and easily processed a dozen 3D models.

Gabe had slightly different ideas about the role of the plot and the interaction of the gamer with the game world. And to implement them on the id Software engine. It took his team two years of hard work. But the result was HL, which has won more than 50 Game of the Year awards and popular love?

Gabe was right. Therefore, it is not surprising that in HL2, they developed the developments of the first part. Made the world even more reliable and interactive. Since id Software has not deviated one iota from its previous positions. It became obvious that Valve would need its own engine to solve these problems. The source was developed by two teams at once: HL2 and Team Fortress 2. The same goes for instrumentation. In addition, the Steam team made the UI and VGUI 2built into Half-Life 2.

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