half-life

Why don’t game developers make their own movies based upon the video games they create? The first answer to that question should be: “they’re busy making more games.” But there are a few cases where very high-profile development studios might be able to pull together the resources to make a game-based film, and do so in a way that stays true to the spirit of the original title. But is that the best way for it to happen?

Valve, the company behind the award-winning game series Half-Life, has seen a lot of interest from producers and studios. But during those pitches no one kept the spirit of the games properly in mind, and Gabe Newell, CEO and co-founder of Valve, has come to the conclusion that if a Half-Life movie is going to be made, Valve might have to do it themselves.

PC Gamer talked to Newell, who said that, for example, he’d rather see Blizzard making a World of Warcraft movie than Sam Raimi. His idea is that fans are ” tired of the way you guys are slicing and dicing the experience of being a fan of Harry Potter, or Half-Life, or The Incredibles, and you need to fix it.” (The Incredibles being a poor choice of example, having been born as a film. But I digress.)

Newell explained that the company came to the conclusion that Valve might be the best candidate to make a Half-Life movie.

There was a whole bunch of meetings with people from Hollywood. Directors down there wanted to make a Half-Life movie and stuff, so they’d bring in a writer or some talent agency would bring in writers, and they would pitch us on their story. And their stories were just so bad. I mean, brutally [sic], the worst. Not understanding what made the game a good game, or what made the property an interesting thing for people to be a fan of… That’s when we started saying ‘Wow, the best thing we could ever do is to just not do this as a movie, or we’d have to make it ourselves.’ And I was like, ‘Make it ourselves? Well that’s impossible.’ But the Team Fortress 2 thing, the Meet The Team shorts, is us trying to explore that.

Some of the Meet the Team shorts are better than others; two of the better ones are embedded below.

Valve is one of the few companies I’d like to see branching out into storytelling beyond games. With most game developers, however, cutscenes range from passable to genuinely awful. While there’s a lot of very pretty visual storytelling going on in game cutscenes, it’s pretty rare that I watch one and think “these guys should be making a movie!” If film producers can’t get the details and storytelling right, how about just leaving games as…games?

And you know what I’d really like to see Valve making, with respect to Half-Life? More Half-Life, but of the playable kind.

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