Two things about this Slashdot post caught me. Firstly, it’s claim that HL2 is ‘a canvas for original works’ - I couldn’t agree more. It’s superb the lengths Valve have gone to in order to ensure the game can be easily modified and changed, but that was totally expected. There is no better engine for creating believeable scenes and environments (I still think its the radiosity stuff that we have to thank). Secondly - and its focus - was the promise that the Source engine shows for Machinima.
Machinima is something I’ve found interesting ever since the days of Quake, where the Quake Movie Library was all the rage. Films like Blahbalicious and Apartment Huntin’ had me amused for hours. I even started making a weird little movie in Quake 2 using KeyGrip 2 (which I think was one of the finest pieces of software anyone ever wrote for that game because it worked directly with the network protocol). It had ‘realistic’ textures I created in Wally and basically concerned a swimming pool, an armed Quake 2 ranger, and a few weird jokes which were probably as entertaining as waking up with GWB’s face grafted onto your stomach.
I almost got back into it for Fountainhead Entertainment (headed by Anna Kang, now Anna Carmack, John Carmack’s wife, with a couple of the Blahbalicious guys on board if I remember correctly) - they were looking for people to help with Sidrial, which initially was a film made using the Quake 3 project (it later became a free Quake 3 mod). I had a short trial, getting used to Radiant, building a setpiece or two, but I just couldn’t create what I wanted. The other designers however were producing astonishing stuff - levels so detailed and intricate (down to tiny bolts created using world geometry) that I really could not begin to help. Half-Life was my game and Worldcraft was my tool. Q3 always produced really dull results and I couldn’t quite work my way around them.
HL2 excited me because of its Machinima potential - there are even tools built in which help directly with editing demos for these purposes. I spent most of the year prior to HL2 coming out thinking of the films and videos I could create, then University came along and claimed my time without giving HL2 a chance. That said, I haven’t given up hope. I forsee lots more Machinima to come, and along with it, lots more tools. Tools such as KeyGrip were the reason why Quake machinima was so good and successful - something like that, for Source, would be incredible.