Doh, thanks. I'm about halfway through the single player commentary, and I haven't heard anything co-op related, so I guess I'll stop for now.
Yep. As I understand it has to do with binary space partitioning or some such tech thang that's well above my head.
I really hope they get that under control for the next Half-Life (or similar action game) they make. It works OK with Portal 2, where much of the game is broken into chambers, but it's created some major flow problems in the last few HL games.
Valve has always had an abundance of loading screens in every game they've ever done, going back to the original Half-Life in 1998. Unlike most other shooters back then, where you usually only saw loading screens at the end of a mission, HL1 was loaded with them, which I remember freaking me out a bit at the time. I think there might have been 3-4 loading screens during the tram ride alone.
For whatever reason, that's how they've always done things. It can be jarring, but it's not something new they started with Portal 2 in deference to consoles.
One thing I remember impressing me about World or Warcraft, back in the day, was that it had loading screens only for very specific things, like instances. You could run around all you liked outdoors and never see one. That doesn't seem like much now, but I was coming into the game from Everquest, which had really obtrusive zone boundaries outdoors.
That's true, sluggo, but I definitely feel like the loading screens are getting more frequent, and that they were handled significantly better in the original HL than in HL2 and its expansions. It's less an issue in the Portal games, since they're often broken into natural chunks, but it's still a little annoying.
It's not a major sticking point with either franchise by any stretch, but it's certainly an area where some improvements would be welcome.
As someone who had been playing games mostly on consoles lately and got this on PC instead, this games stops to load way more often than most recent console games.
The HL2 loading screens were super-super-quick, weren't they?
It's not just about length, it's about constantly breaking up the action with an awkward lull.
edit: And that is absolutely what she said. I'm so sorry. :(
I remember being annoyed by the loading in HL2 almost to the point of putting my fist through the monitor. It was especially bad in Ravenholm, where there were some places where you could almost get into a weird loading loop because of poor placement of the zone markers.
As others have said it isn't as much of an issue in Portal since the level segmentation in that game fits more naturally, but I agree I'd like to see them fix it for future HL episodes.
HL3/HL2Ep3/Whatever should be an Openworld game.
Everything was especially bad in Ravenholm.
Not really. Everyone used to complain about the long, oft-required loading screens of HL2 (not to mention the whole stuttering thing).
C'mon now, Portal 2 packs a lot of crap into a level so that's why there's a lot of loading? No it doesn't. The loading is only a convenience to transition between levels so they can impose more story on you. It's nothing more than that.
I think that if you consider the way Valve tests and iterates it kind of makes sense to split every gameplay bubble into its own map. Portal 2 with its discrete puzzles really lends itself to that kind segmentation, and I'm sure it made production a lot easier on them.
Having played around with the Source SDK's Hammer editor, the area given to you for level design is overall quite small compared to other games. (UnrealEd, Stalker's Editor, Crysis) and a lot has to be done to even manage a large open world map in terms of its visibility leaves, FPS and general geometry. Even L4D2, those maps are actually fairly small, but because they loop in and around themselves, do they feel more expansive than what Valve does in general.
Given that Portal 2 levels are huge compared to Valve's previous games, with tons of detail going on, I'm wondering if they didn't really upgrade their Source Engine to allow for bigger maps. If they didn't, it would explain the abundance of loading screens in Portal 2.
They were pretty quick... but there was about 4 or 5 times more loading moments than your average game.
Wen you say "huge" you sould probably take into account (if you don't are already doing it) that the giganteous areas we see but not visit can be visualization tricks. Mirrors and smoke, a lot of mirrors and smoke.
Having used Hammer a lot as well, I can definitely agree. All the Source games use a combination of smaller levels coupled with visual tricks to get a feeling of expansiveness. There is a lot of detail in Portal 2's levels, so it's not a surprise to me that the levels are smaller than what gamers may have become used to over the last few years.
Also, having read the Final Hours article (which is pretty good, BTW) there definitely was a developmental reason for the discrete one level per room construction. The levels were built using the cabal approach.
That's why we don't go there anymore.
I remember the Half-Life 2 loading screens being excessively long, actually. Whether on the computer I had in 2004 or even a few years later, I was lucky if a loading screen was as quick as 15-20 seconds. 30+ seconds was somewhat common, even.