The Orange Box – Review and Troubleshooting

My original post about trouble shooting Half-Life 2 Episode One has quickly grown into the most popular page on this site and become a major resource for trouble shooting Episode One crashes and problems.

For those who haven’t seen the original page you can check it out here.

Now it’s time for the follow up as I finally got around to buying and playing Valve’s new release The Orange Box, which features Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2 Episode One, Half-Life 2 Episode 2, Team Fortress Two and Portal.

I’d firstly like to echo most sentiments that the pack represents amazing value. But one can’t shake the annoyance at making loyal games fork out for games they’ve already bought by not selling a hard copy version of Half-Life 2 Episode 2 in a stand alone pack. I probably would have bought The Orange Box anyway because I wanted to play Portal, but the lack of choice gets to me. (I know I’m being pedantic, I could have bought it off Steam, but I don’t entirely trust the whole Steam process and I prefer to buy the physical DVD)

After the troubles I had with Episode One I’d like to say that everything to do with The Orange Box went smoothly without any crashes or errors but alas that wasn’t the case. Fortunately my problems weren’t as bad as with Episode One.

The two problems I suffered when playing Episode Two were a graphical issue and a stuttering issue. But it should be pointed out that the stuttering problem I suffered isn’t the one that most people have had with Source games.

The graphical problem came up from time to time. Basically every now and then, after a loading screen, some of the textures would become all hyper coloured, instead of their normal colour. Re-starting the game or changing the resolution usually got rid of the problem. I never actually fixed this issue. I figured it was probably something that could be fixed with a video card driver update but I never did anything about it. I’ve noticed on other forums similar complaints but I haven’t seen a solution posted yet.

The other problem I had was much more serious. It came at a key point in the game in the chapter called “The Vortigaunt Coil”. Now for those that haven’t played the game I won’t describe what happens but suffice to say that during this episode a significant event occurs which is key to the entire Half-Life story. Unfortunately for me when this event occurred the entire game froze up and began moving at something like one frame a second with sever stuttering and sound issues.

At first I thought this issue was a re-occurance of the looping sound problem that was common in Episode One. So I followed some of the fixes posted in the Episode One thread but nothing seemed to work. I also tried a solution posted by Valve which suggested that AVG anti-virus which I was running at the time uses a lot of memory and interferes with Steam Games. So I completely un-installed it and still no fix.

Finally I came across a different solution posted on a forum. Turns out the problem comes from having too little ram. I only have 512mb of ram. Adding more RAM would have fixed the problem.

Luckily that wasn’t necessary. Turns out you can fix the problem by changing the “heapsize” which allocates memory to the game.

By adding the following line to the launch options: “-heapsize 256000″ (With out the “”) where 256000 is half your RAM, measured in bytes I was able to overcome the problem and play the game through as normal.

Once I’d overcome that problem the game ran fine the rest of the way through and it was an awesome experience. The final battle is one of the most intense gaming battles I’ve ever experienced.

I still get annoyed sometimes by the inability to shake the notion that your playing the game on rails with all your moves laid out for you. I understand that Valve’s intention is to guide you through the story, but my favourite game ever, Deus Ex presented the gamer with genuine choices at various points in the game. It’ll be a mighty game that eventually finds the balance between these two styles.

Of the other games in the pack I haven’t had much of a chance to play Team Fortress 2 and multi-player games aren’t really my thing. But Portal was great and it was fun to play something different and genuinely innovative.

So all in all that was my experience. Like the other post if you have any feedback, problems, advice or solutions please post them in the comments so that others can use this page as a resource.


Follow Up to Daily Telegraph Post

A few days ago I made a post about a Daily Telegraph article about spelling errors appearing on the same page as their own spelling error.

As a follow up to that post I sent the screenshot I posted into Media Watch and they aired the story!

You can see a clip of the show here:



Update: Those of you looking for Mobisnap information click here!


Go and explore my final Minisite. It’s Appleicious! Probably too Appleicious… But I didn’t steal much from them – just their whole company branding… But that’s all. Really. I’ve Photoshopped (sorry, manipulated imagery using the Adobe Photoshop image editing software. Damn US trademark law…) all of the graphics myself.

I wish I had been able to improve the prototype further, but Flash was beginning to get upset with me… Note to self: next time, don’t use keyframe animation to make an application.

Anyway, enough with the chatter. The website is available on my uni web-space or from MON Productions. Whichever you prefer.

I’m off now ;)


It’s the last day for DECO1200! Then blessed freedom! If only I could find the reset button for my brain. I’m still seeing the Maya interface when I close my eyes and trying to apply a circular fillet to things that don’t quite fit together!

Right now, my biggest worry isn’t actually my website submission. It’s actually the rumble of thunder above my house. I need compy to have power for a few more hours yet! Especially given the state of the power-grid down here… If the power dies before 5:00 I’m going to be very annoyed.

In other news, Apple did actually update the MacBooks. Very quietly indeed – i.e. they’re shipping with no announcements. They’ve been bumped to the new(er) Intel Santa Rosa chipset with the new X3100 graphics card. So do I want to go and buy one now?? They’re very nice… Although I’m freaked out by the concept of spending $1700 on a computer (spending $1200 on a ski-trip is fine…). On the other hand, it means no more updates for 6 months…

Surely the Daily Telegraph…

…can’t be this dumb… can they? (Obviously they can be)

I was looking for news coverage of the Swann/Costello debate and had to take this screenshot of the front page of the Daily Telegraph website.

The banner which I’ve circled in blue is an attack on protesters who held up a sign but got the letters around the wrong way.

Apparently this is big news for the Daily Telegraph, pointing out that handful of protesters had made an error, a big enough deal that they labelled it a “shame”. This caught my attention first as I couldn’t believe they felt like this was news worthy.

But then, I scrolled down the page to the part I’ve marked with a red circle and saw how they’d spelt Howard!

Surely even the Daily Telegraph can’t be that dumb?

Daily Telegraph screenshot

Still Bloggin’

No, I’ve not forgotten about blogging (seeing as I still have 6 days before the subject is “over”). Although, don’t expect this post to be coherent. It won’t be.

On the DECO1200 front, Minisite 3 is progressing nicely. I’ve just got to decide where to put what… Not fun. But the design is done, and it’s looking exceptionally shiny (Apple eat your heart out!).

Speaking of Apple, there are rumours floating about of new MacBooks being released tomorrow… With faster CPUs and better graphics cards courtesy of Intel. The only problem for me is should I a) buy now, have a cool toy for the holidays and figure out how to use MacOS X before uni goes back; or b) wait until just before uni goes back, wait until other people work out the bugs inherent in 1st Generation Apple hardware (not to mention Leopard), benefit from the 9 cents of interest I can earn until February and then grab myself a Mac? Decisions, decisions.

In other news, I’m still waiting on bloody Australia Post to deliver my copy of Half-Life 2: Orange Box. I’ve finally got my desktop stable (my Radeon x1950 Pro killed motherboards). It apparently shipped last Monday from Brisbane. I want Portal dammit!


Today was our last day of classes for the semester. Hooray! I’m sleeping in the morning without the guilty feeling of doing work.

We also handed in the evil final DECO1008 3d modelling render today, it was worth 80%. Hopefully Steven and Marc think it’s as shiny as I do. I’m actually quite proud of it, and it’s developed a fair bit in the past few days. Thanks to Kaz for his comments and suggestions – although I never did get the “crapification” layer to look right.

Now, the only assignment left is DECO1200 Minisite 3. It will blow your mind!

Thanks too to Rob for being one of the few lecturers we’ve had who has given useful comments, actually been interesting to listen to and hasn’t been abusive towards us (well, only 1 lecturer falls into that category). Cheers!

DECO1008 Final Assignment

I’ve posted the final assignment for DECO1008 online, you can view the very shiny (literally and figuratively) final rendered image on the DECO1008 page. Or below, for those who are lazy :)

DECO1008 Final render

DECO1005: Final Portfolio

I thought I’d post this up here anyway, my final portfolio website for DECO1005 is now online. Go forth and explore, it’s got videos :) 

Word 2007 Blogging

I’m just testing out a feature I’ve noticed in my brand new install of Office 2007 which lets you use Word as a blogging client. This post has no real point, it’s just seeing how bad the code Office spits out could possibly be.

Here’s a picture of a penguin:

So far, I’ve noticed that this doesn’t support the new tagging system in WordPress 2.3 – which I only actually enabled this afternoon, so it’s not actually quite as useless as I previously thought. Anyway, this is rapidly losing its novelty.

I’m also not entirely sure why I’d use Office as a blogging client… Oh well, it was only $75 ;)