I erroneously said in the latest Manager In A Strange Land that Half-Life took three years to ship. Jay Stelly just wrote me to say it was actually two years. I was skeptical - it sure felt like three years. What he had to say:
The source code has comments in it for the first lines being written
October 24, 1996. So it was just over two years between first line of
code and shipping. I wasn't at Valve back then, so I can't personally
confirm that date, but I believe the comment is accurate.
For what it's worth I didn't come to Valve until May 1997. Marc Laidlaw
(our writer) and myself started the same week. The core team was in
place by that point, but there were a few hires in mid-late 1997 - and
Yahn Bernier (who wrote most of the game's front end as well as lots of
the networking) didn't start until Feb '98. We haven't added anyone to
the Half-Life 2 team in a while (other than people who were already at
Valve pitching in to help out on some things).
Also, he says the cabal process is still alive and well and they still use it.
In other news, I saw a trailer for Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow last night before a second Return Of The King viewing and I was blown away. Somebody in Hollywood has balls. Just as I was thinking, wow, what amazing art direction, how fantastic, I bet I'm one of the only people in the world who would actually dig this movie, the guy behind me in the theater said, "That looks dumb." Apparently this is Jude Law's pet project or something: that's why they can make a movie that seems so very unmarketable. But remember how I said a few days ago that with enough millions of dollars you can make anything cool? This is going to make retro-barnstorming-action (at least somewhat) cool again, and I bet that Microsoft wants to get another Crimson Skies out to coincide with this movie. Microsoft took a big risk by backing this quirky IP, and here comes the payoff: the public eye has just lit upon this kind of thing. Go Microsoft. You win. Did Microsoft know this movie was in production? How could they, however many years ago? Did they find out before they shipped? I could imagine postponing release just to come out with the movie, but it's even cooler to release early to small sales and then have heritage on your side when you release a second product in time for the hype. "This isn't just a Sky Captain knock off. We were making Crimson Skies before anybody ever heard of Sky Captain."