Counter Strike 1.6 – 2014
Counter Strike 1.6 – 2014
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Half-Life (stylized as HλLF-LIFE) is a science fiction first-person shooter video game developed by Valve, released in 1998 by Sierra Studios for Microsoft Windows. It was Valve’s debut product and the first in the Half-Life series. Players assume the role of Dr. Gordon Freeman, who must fight his way out of a secret research facility after a teleportation experiment goes disastrously wrong, fighting enemies and solving puzzles.
Unlike many other games at the time, Half-Life features no cutscenes; the player has uninterrupted control of Freeman, and the story is told through scripted sequences seen through his eyes. Valve cofounder Gabe Newell said the team had wanted to create an immersive world rather than a “shooting gallery”. The game’s engine, GoldSrc, is a heavily modified version of the Quake engine licensed from id Software.
Half-Life received acclaim for its graphics, realistic gameplay, and seamless narrative. It won over fifty PC “Game of the Year” awards and is often considered one of the greatest games of all time. It influenced first-person shooters for years after its release; according to IGN, the history of the genre “breaks down pretty cleanly into pre-Half-Life and post-Half-Life eras.”
Half-Life had sold eight million copies by November 16, 2004, and 9.3 million copies by December 2008. It was ported to the PlayStation 2 in 2001, and OS X and Linux in 2013. It was followed in 2004 by a sequel, Half-Life 2.
Half-Life is a first-person shooter that requires the player to perform combat tasks and puzzle solving to advance through the game. Unlike most of its peers at the time, Half-Life used scripted sequences, such as a Vortigaunt ramming down a door, to advance major plot points. Compared to most first-person shooters of the time, which relied on cut-scene intermissions to detail their plotlines, Half-Life’s story is told entirely by means of scripted sequences, keeping the player in control of the first-person viewpoint. In line with this, the game has no cut-scenes, and the player rarely loses the ability to control Gordon, who never speaks and is never actually seen in the game; the player sees “through his eyes” for the entire length of the game. Half-Life has no “levels”; it instead divides the game by chapters, whose titles flash on the screen as the player moves through the game. Progress through the world is continuous, except for short pauses for loading.
The game regularly integrates puzzles, such as navigating a maze of conveyor belts, or using nearby boxes to build a small staircase to the next area the player must travel to. Some puzzles involve using the environment to kill an enemy, like turning on a steam valve to spray hot steam at their enemies. There are few “bosses” in the conventional sense, where the player defeats a superior opponent by direct confrontation. Instead, such organisms occasionally define chapters, and the player is generally expected to use the terrain, rather than firepower, to kill the “boss”. Late in the game, the player receives a “long jump module” for the HEV suit, which allows the player to increase the horizontal distance and speed of jumps by crouching before jumping. The player must rely on this ability to navigate various platformer-style jumping puzzles in Xen toward the end of the game.
For the most part the player battles through the game alone, but is occasionally assisted by non-player characters; specifically security guards and scientists who help the player, the former who will fight alongside and both who can assist in reaching new areas and impart relevant plot information. A wide array of enemies populate the game including parasites of Xen such as headcrabs, bullsquids, headcrab zombies and Vortigaunts. The player also faces human opponents, in particular Hazardous Environment Combat Unit (HECU) Marines and black ops assassins who are dispatched to contain the extra-dimensional threats and silence all witnesses.
The iconic weapon of Half-Life is the crowbar. The game also features numerous conventional weapons, such as the Glock 17 pistol (with the HD pack enabled, it resembles a Beretta), Franchi SPAS-12 shotgun (with the HD pack enabled, the stock is folded up), MP5 submachine gun with an attached M203 grenade launcher (with the HD pack enabled, it resembles an M4 Carbine), Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver, and rocket launcher as well as unusual weapons ranging from a crossbow to weapons from Xen and genetically engineered weapons such as an organic homing gun and flesh-eating parasites called “Snarks”. Two experimental weapons, the tau cannon (nicknamed the Gauss gun) and the Gluon Gun, are built by the scientists in the facility and are acquired by the player late in the game.
Most of the game is set in a remote desert area of New Mexico in the Black Mesa Research Facility, a fictional complex that bears many similarities to both the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Area 51, at some point during the 2000s. The game’s protagonist is the theoretical physicist Gordon Freeman, who holds a Ph.D. from MIT. Freeman becomes one of the survivors of an experiment at Black Mesa that goes horribly wrong, when an unexpected “resonance cascade”—a fictitious phenomenon—rips dimensional seams, devastating the facility. Aliens from another dimension known as Xen subsequently enter the facility through these dimensional seams (an event known as the “Black Mesa incident”).
As Freeman tries to make his way out of the ruined facility, he soon discovers that he is caught between two sides: the hostile aliens and the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit, a U.S. Marine Corps special operations unit dispatched to cover up the incident by eliminating the organisms, as well as Dr. Freeman and the other surviving Black Mesa personnel to keep them from talking. Throughout the game, a mysterious figure known (but not actually referred to in-game) as the “G-Man” regularly appears, and seems to be monitoring Freeman’s progress. Ultimately, Freeman uses the cooperation of surviving scientists and security officers to work his way towards the mysterious “Lambda Complex” of Black Mesa (signified with the Greek “λ” character), where a team of survivors teleport him to the alien world Xen to kill the Nihilanth, the gigantic entity keeping Xen’s side of the dimensional rift open.
The game’s plot was originally inspired by the video games Doom and Quake (both PC games produced by id Software), Stephen King’s short story/novella The Mist, and an episode of The Outer Limits called “The Borderland”. It was later developed by Valve’s in-house writer and author, Marc Laidlaw, who wrote the books Dad’s Nuke and The 37th Mandala.
While the Apple II was already established as a successful business-ready platform because of Visicalc, Apple was not content. The Apple III was designed to take on the business environment. The Apple III was released on May 19, 1980.
The Apple III was a relatively conservative design for computers of the era. However, Steve Jobs did not want the computer to have a fan; rather, he wanted the heat generated by the electronics to be dissipated through the chassis of the machine, forgoing the cooling fan.
Unfortunately, the physical design of the case was not sufficient to cool the components inside it. By removing the fan from the design, the Apple III was prone to overheating. This caused the integrated circuit chips to disconnect from the motherboard. Customers who contacted Apple customer service were told to “raise the computers six inches in the air, and then let go”, which would cause the ICs to fall back into place.
Thousands of Apple III computers were recalled and, although a new model was introduced in 1983 to rectify the problems, the damage was already done.
In the July 1980 issue of Kilobaud Microcomputing, publisher Wayne Green stated that “the best consumer ads I’ve seen have been those by Apple. They are attention-getting, and they must be prompting sale.” In August, the Financial Times reported that
Apple Computer, the fast growing Californian manufacturer of small computers for the consumer, business and educational markets, is planning to go public later this year. [It] is the largest private manufacturer in the U.S. of small computers. Founded about five years ago as a small workshop business, it has become the second largest manufacturer of small computers, after the Radio Shack division of the Tandy company.
On December 12, 1980, Apple launched the Initial Public Offering of its stock to the investing public. When Apple went public, it generated more capital than any IPO since Ford Motor Company in 1956 and instantly created more millionaires (about 300) than any company in history. Several venture capitalists cashed out, reaping billions in long-term capital gains.
In January 1981, Apple held its first shareholders meeting as a public company in the Flint Center, a large auditorium at nearby De Anza College (which is often used for symphony concerts) to handle the larger numbers of shareholders post-IPO. The business of the meeting had been planned so that the voting could be staged in 15 minutes or less. In most cases, voting proxies are collected by mail and counted days or months before a meeting. In this case, after the IPO, many shares were in new hands.
Steve Jobs started his prepared speech, but after being interrupted by voting several times, he dropped his prepared speech and delivered a long, emotionally charged talk about betrayal, lack of respect, and related topics.
By August 1981 Apple was among the three largest microcomputer companies, perhaps having replaced Radio Shack as the leader. IBM entered the personal computer market that month with the IBM PC, but Apple had many advantages. While IBM began with one microcomputer, little available hardware or software, and a couple of hundred dealers, Apple had five times as many dealers in the US and an established international distribution network. The Apple II had an installed base of more than 250,000 customers, and hundreds of independent developers offered software and peripherals; at least ten databases and ten word processors were available, while the PC had no databases and one word processor.
The Apple III was an example, however, of the company’s reputation among dealers that one described as “Apple arrogance”. After examining a PC and finding it unimpressive, Apple confidently purchased a full-page advertisement in The Wall Street Journal with the headline “Welcome, IBM. Seriously”. Microsoft head Bill Gates was at Apple headquarters the day of IBM’s announcement and later said “They didn’t seem to care. It took them a full year to realize what had happened”. By 1983 the PC surpassed the Apple II as the best-selling personal computer. By 1984 IBM had $4 billion in annual PC revenue, more than twice that of Apple and as much as the sales of it and the next three companies combined. Most Apple II sales had been to companies, but a Fortune survey found that 56% of American companies with personal computers used IBM PCs, compared to 16% for Apple. Small businesses, schools, and some homes became the II’s primary market.
Apple Computer’s business division was focused on the Apple III, another iteration of the text-based computer. Simultaneously the Lisa group worked on a new machine that would feature a completely different interface and introduce the words mouse, icon, and desktop into the lexicon of the computing public. In return for the right to buy US$1,000,000 of pre-IPO stock, Xerox granted Apple Computer three days access to the PARC facilities. After visiting PARC, they came away with new ideas that would complete the foundation for Apple Computer’s first GUI computer, the Apple Lisa.
The first iteration of Apple’s WIMP interface was a floppy disk where files could be spatially moved around. After months of usability testing, Apple designed the Lisa interface of windows and icons.
The Lisa was introduced in 1983 at a cost of US $9,995 ($23.7 thousand in present-day terms). Because of the high price, Lisa failed to penetrate the business market.
The Macintosh 128k was announced to the press in October 1983, followed by an 18-page brochure included with various magazines in December. Its debut, however, was announced by a single national broadcast of the now famous US$1.5 million television commercial, “1984”. It was directed by Ridley Scott, aired during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984, and is now considered a “watershed event” and a “masterpiece.” 1984 used an unnamed heroine to represent the coming of the Macintosh (indicated by her white tank top with a Picasso-style picture of Apple’s Macintosh computer on it) as a means of saving humanity from “conformity” (Big Brother). These images were an allusion to George Orwell’s noted novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which described a dystopian future ruled by a televised “Big Brother.”
For a special post-election edition of Newsweek in November 1984, Apple spent more than US$2.5 million to buy all 39 of the advertising pages in the issue. Apple also ran a “Test Drive a Macintosh” promotion, in which potential buyers with a credit card could take home a Macintosh for 24 hours and return it to a dealer afterwards. While 200,000 people participated, dealers disliked the promotion, the supply of computers was insufficient for demand, and many were returned in such a bad shape that they could no longer be sold. This marketing campaign caused CEO John Sculley to raise the price from US$1,995 to US$2,495 ($5.68 thousand in present-day terms).
Two days after the 1984 ad aired, the Macintosh went on sale. It came bundled with two applications designed to show off its interface: MacWrite and MacPaint. Although the Mac garnered an immediate, enthusiastic following, it was too radical for some, who labeled it a mere “toy”. Because the machine was entirely designed around the GUI, existing text-mode and command-driven applications had to be redesigned and the programming code rewritten; this was a challenging undertaking that many software developers shied away from, and resulted in an initial lack of software for the new system. In April 1984 Microsoft’s MultiPlan migrated over from MS-DOS, followed by Microsoft Word in January 1985. In 1985, Lotus Software introduced Lotus Jazz after the success of Lotus 1-2-3 for the IBM PC, although it was largely a flop. Apple introduced Macintosh Office the same year with the lemmings ad, infamous for insulting potential customers. It was not successful.
Macintosh also spawned the concept of Mac evangelism which was pioneered by Apple employee, and later Apple Fellow, Guy Kawasaki.
Despite initial marketing difficulties, the Macintosh brand was eventually a success for Apple. This was due to its introduction of desktop publishing (and later computer animation) through Apple’s partnership with Adobe Systems which introduced the laser printer and Adobe PageMaker. Indeed, the Macintosh would become known as the de facto platform for many industries including cinema, music, advertising, publishing and the arts.
Sculley and Jobs’ visions for the company greatly differed. The former favored open architecture computers like the Apple II, sold to education, small business, and home markets less vulnerable to IBM. Jobs wanted the company to focus on the closed architecture Macintosh as a business alternative to the IBM PC. President and CEO Sculley had little control over Chairman of the Board Jobs’ Macintosh division; it and the Apple II division operated like separate companies, duplicating services. Although its products provided 85% of Apple’s sales in early 1985, the company’s January 1985 annual meeting did not mention the Apple II division or employees. Many left, including Wozniak, who stated that the company had “been going in the wrong direction for the last five years” and sold most of his stock.
The Macintosh’s failure to defeat the PC strengthened Sculley’s position in the company. In June 1985, the board of directors sided with Sculley and Jobs was stripped of all duties. Jobs, while taking the position of Chairman of the firm, had no influence over Apple’s direction and subsequently resigned. Sculley reorganized the company, unifying sales and marketing in one division and product operations and development in another. In a show of defiance at being set aside by Apple Computer, Jobs sold all but one of his 6.5 million shares in the company for $70 million. Jobs then acquired the visual effects house, Pixar for $5M ($10.8 million in present-day terms). He also went on to found NeXT Inc., a computer company that built machines with futuristic designs and ran the UNIX-derived NeXTstep operating system. NeXTSTEP would eventually be developed into Mac OS X. While not a commercial success, due in part to its high price, the NeXT computer would introduce important concepts to the history of the personal computer (including serving as the initial platform for Tim Berners-Lee as he was developing the World Wide Web)