Seeing the Lost Coast

Having revolutionized the first-person shooter genre with Half-Life and Half-Life 2, you would think Valve Software would be content to sit back, relax, and get some work done on Team Fortress 2. But you would be wrong. Valve is back, and this time their goal is no less than a revolution in game lighting.

On an afternoon in mid-September, Valve invited a group of reporters to their Bellevue, Washington studios. The main attraction was a glimpse at the soon-to-be-released Lost Coast level for Half-Life 2, and the technology used to power it. While it is only a single level, Lost Coast nevertheless promises to deliver a microcosm of the Half-Life 2 revolution, with its introduction of High Dynamic Range (HDR) lighting.

Valve has won more awards than you can shake a crowbar at.

The philosophy behind the Lost Coast technology demo is simple. By releasing new technology in the form of short demos - instead of creating entire games to encompass them - Valve hopes to push the envelope of game technology innovation even further. Lost Coast is Valve's way of testing out a new model of innovation with smaller and more concise snippets of gameplay that show the full range of what a new technology can do, rather than investing a huge amount of time and money to develop an entirely new game. If this proves successful, then we will more than likely see similar free (or at least inexpensive) technology demos released in the future.