After publishing the first version of Argus, I was contacted by
Valve. They already
searched for new Internet technologies to broadcast online games. Valve
became well known since their first game Half-Life
was a top hit 1998. It was based on the
Quake 1 engine, but greatly improved and extended. Like a phoenix, 'Half-Life' become
the most played online game in 2000 after the release of the 'Counter-Strike' addon.
Right now Half-Life is played online much more than all other 3D shooter together. You
can prove that at www.gamespy.com
Valve had a great new idea in mind. They wanted a proxy network to broadcast the game, that supports unicast as well as multicast, controlled by a director application. The director should be supported by an intelligent logic, finding itself good scene cuts and camera positions. Also the spectator should be able choose from a wide variety of views. Also a 2D overview known from Argus should be included to provide a clear understanding of game play. Since a Voice-Over-IP technology was already in development, an additional commentator should guide the audience through the game. I have made a small DivX AVI of the current HLTV version, so you could get a better understanding of what I'm talking about.
That's a lot of stuff to do, even I'm still studying. But, this was the kind of work I ever wanted to
do. So I quite my job at the Fraunhofer Institut and started my new job in June 2000. It was pretty difficult
to get into it, but finally after 4 month a had a pretty good understandig of the HL game and network engine.
I started to implement the proxy in December 2000 and made the first director tool prototypes in march 2001.
HLTV was show the first time in April at the CPL event in Dallas and people were quite excited about it.
Then I worked about one and a half month at Valve in Kirkland/Seattle. It was a great time and I lerned a lot about
game development, especially about release dates :)
I hope that HLTV will change the way people 'experience' online games. They will see that it is as much
enjoyable as watching a football game. Right now only die hard computer gamers are interested in online matches
and clan leagues, since it's not very entertaining to see just the scores in a chat room or reading about it on news
sites. Without having a live spectator feeling, it pretty hard to raise real emotions only with text reports.
If you're interested in more details of HLTV and it's implementation, take a look at my recently finished
paper ( BroadcastingVirtualGames.pdf ) about it.
Server and proxy administroators should peek into the HLTV FAQs to find more useful hints.