The folks over at HomeLAN Fed have an interview with David Hodgson on his upcoming book about the making of Half-Life 2 and the history of Valve Software called Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar – A Behind the Scenes Look. There haven’t been a lot of making-of books about video games so far, but I suspect this will be a growing trend as video games move more into the mainstream. With a development time of over five years and the headline making theft of the source code last September there’s already plenty to talk about with regards to HL2 so the fact that it covers the history of Valve from its beginning just adds icing to the cake. Plus it’s crammed full of artwork from the games with over 1,000 images in total. Here’s a snippet from the interview describing some of the book’s content:
HomeLAN – What are some of the more surprising or interesting things you learned about game development while writing and researching the book?
David Hodgson – Well, without giving much of the content away, there were dozens of interesting anecdotes and information pieces that no one’s read about before. For example, one of the company’s original names was Rhinoscar (I even got Gabe to draw me the logo!). Gabe talks about Prospero, there’s an extremely amusing story about Ted Bachman’s interview with Gabe and the inception for some of the freakier looking critters in the game. How Gordon’s name came about. Who influenced Hal Robins’ during his vocal recordings for Dr. Kleiner. Then there’s the photography models for G. Man and Alyx; they’re are really cool to see! The Source code theft is talked about candidly. The sheer insanity of the modeling that went on in City 17 shows how meticulous Valve are. Some of the entities that got cut from HL2… how development stalled for months when the physics engine was finished and everyone started building crazy contraptions… I mean, there’s loads of surprising elements I wrote about during the development of Valve’s games—that’s just a smattering!
David was given pretty much full access to the employees while working on the book and it’s meant to be a coffee table quality product as opposed to the traditional trade paperback that most of Prima’s strategy guides tend to be. Hardback covers and glossy paper, David estimates that it’s about the size of a phone book and will probably be a limited print run. Amazon has it listed with a price of $29.99. The hope is to have it released prior to the game so fans who pick it up should be wary that it does contain some spoilers about the storyline in HL2.