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   PlanetDreamcast | Features | Randy Pitchford Interview

Randy Pitchford Interview
Randy Pitchford of Gearbox Software talks to us about Half-Life for the Dreamcast

Hornrims are in.
It took PCs by storm in 1998, and to this day Half-Life is the most popular multiplayer game on the Internet. That's pretty incredible, especially when you consider that the game was pretty much scrapped half-way through its development and was restarted from scratch.

Being as popular as it is, it's no surprise that Dreamcast owners are clamoring for their own version of Valve's masterpiece, and Gearbox Software is set to deliver. Boasting improved graphics, a new mission, and all of the suspense of the PC original, Dreamcast Half-Life looks to be another world class first person shooter to add to the console's already-impressive library. PlanetDreamcast recently had the opportunity to speak with Randy Pitchford, the head designer over at Gearbox. The topic? Yep, Dreamcast Half-Life. Let's get crackin'!

PlanetDreamcast: What are the main differences between the Dreamcast and original PC versions of Half-Life?

Randy Pitchford: The Sega Dreamcast version of Half-Life offers a number of significant improvements. First, the content of the game has been overhauled. This includes upgrades like higher resolution characters which have more animation articulation and new and enhanced weapons that offer more detail than ever. Second, the game has been optimized for the Dreamcast hardware - that includes specific 3d rendering code and console friendly front-end and interface features. Finally, and most importantly, Half-Life for Dreamcast is like getting two games for the price of one because it includes an entirely new episode called Half-Life: Blue Shift. In Blue Shift, players take on the role of the security guard known as Barney.

These troops are perhaps the most cunning enemies ever featured in a FPS.
PlanetDreamcast: Was it easy to port Half-Life to the Dreamcast? Did you ever hit any significant snags during development?

Randy Pitchford: Half-Life for Dreamcast is being developed jointly with Gearbox Software in charge of content development and enhancement and Captivation Digital Laboratories in charge of the code porting and rendering on the Dreamcast. From our perspective, development has been very smooth. And judging from the work that Captivation has done, they have solved most of the tricky problems very elegantly which helps to make the Dreamcast version of Half-Life be the best looking version yet.

PlanetDreamcast: What kind of frame rates are you generally seeing?

Randy Pitchford: Frame rates vary depending on the complexity of the scene. In general, the frame rates are significantly better than they were on the original PC system requirements. Most of the time, the game runs better than 30fps but there are a few complex areas where it drops a little lower than that. I'm very happy that the game runs as fast as it does on the Dreamcast even with the higher detail content that has been added.

PlanetDreamcast: The last we've heard is that online multiplayer is out, at least for the moment; will the first version of Dreamcast Half-Life offer split-screen multiplayer instead? If so, will there be any special modes besides vanilla deathmatch? Possibly the popular Counter-Strike modification?

This time around, Barney gets an adventure of his own. No more desk work!
Randy Pitchford: Half-Life for Dreamcast development has focused on the single player experience. Most Dreamcast owners play games solo and so Gearbox spent its time enhancing the single player game and creating an entirely new game (Blue Shift) to go along side the original.

PlanetDreamcast: There've been rumors that some sort of online multiplayer expansion disc will ship after the game is released. Can you shed some light on this?

Randy Pitchford: It's something we're thinking about. But no final decision has been made yet.

PlanetDreamcast: Are there plans to somehow include the Opposing Force Expansion Pack?

Randy Pitchford: Again, something we're thinking about for a future release.

Next: What about Walter?

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