Belated reminder that I hate the Source SDK

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I've been rather slow about updating the Games portfolio on this site to include my past work from Firearms, Firearms: Source, and World at War, all mods for Valve Software's Half-Life 2. In particular, I haven't had time to dig up content from either Firearms mod. As for WaW, I dug up what very few screenshots I'd already taken and uploaded them. Of course, I have other works from WaW that have never seen the light of day, so I figured I'd load up my previously dormant mod and take some new screenies.

I started Half-Life 2/World at War and loaded up a map with the provocative title of "Village." A quick runthrough brought a wealth of issues to my attention, most of them in the form of empty wireframes and pink-and-black checkered surfaces that screamed the unwelcome message, "Hey, dumbass, you're missing some textures."

Hrm, was I missing some textures that belonged to Counter Strike: Source? I'd uninstalled that a few months back. I re-downloaded CS:S, but, nope, the textures were still missing. I did a quick perusal of the WaW directory itself. All the textures seemed to be there.

Eventually, I decided to load up the Hammer level editor to look at the map and manually reassign the textures if need be. Too bad that none of the viewports in Hammer actually worked. Oh sure, all the Tool buttons worked, but the actual most important part of the editor, the part that lets me see what I'm doing, had broken at some point in the past few months. Dead end.

And then I started remembering all the other fun things about the Source Software Development Kit (SDK) and Half-Life 2 modding. There's the DOS compilers with no first-party user interfaces. The various editors that break from update to update. Map sizes limited to a square half-mile (especially when Unreal Tournament 2003 came out one year earlier with maps that could be six square miles). Scaling anything being a tortuous, broken process. An antiquated engine that still relies on BSP corridor mapping.* A netcode so brittle that even minor additions to the code result in horrible latency.

I know I still have a lot to learn about Microsoft XNA, my current development environment. But I gotta say, its whole principle is based around (a) streamlining access to DirectX and rendering graphics, and (b) providing a unified PC/Xbox 360 development platform. It's all about ease and accessability. I think of this, and I pee a little (from happiness!)

Valve, I love you and I love your games. But seriously, your SDK makes me want to slam a door on my dick.

*I'm reminded that the epic conclusion to Half-Life 2: Episode 2 took place in a fairly wide-open, beautiful pine forest. Lots of trees, lots of structures, lots of realistic clutter. I spent a good chunk of 2007 wondering what changes had been made to the Source engine to allow for this style of mapping, but I could never find anything on it. It's two years later and about time I checked again, as I'd still love to help out my friends on the Firearms: Source team with a beautiful outdoor map.