On Wednesday during the 2013 DICE Summit, Valve Software bossman Gabe Newell and producer/director J.J. Abrams took the stage in a 20-minute one-on-one battle about storytelling in games and movies. The whole dialog was basically preparation for what was to be revealed at the very end: a love for each other's work and a desire to collaborate.
"What we are actually doing here, we are recapitulating a series of conversations going on. We reached the point that we decided to do more than talk." Newell said. "We're super excited about that and we also want to talk about making movies, either a Portal movie or a Half-Life movie."
You read that right: a possible Portal or Half-Life movie from J.J. Abrams. Will he have time to direct it? Probably not given his schedule and the upcoming task of helming the seventh Star Wars movie. But with Bad Robot taking the reigns, we'll finally have a studio that will properly bring Valve's IP to the silver screen.
Abrams then said that he wants to collaborate with Valve on a game without providing any details.
At the beginning of the talk, he thanked developers for all the "incredible fun" they have provided his family and even himself over the years, saying that the industry has moved from Pong (cave drawings) to Portal (the renaissance) in a few short decades. He later admitted that he's a big fan of Valve's games, and even mentions Portal and Half-Life IPs quite a bit.
"I play your games, I love the experience of playing your games," he told Newell. "It's always funny to hear that someone who admires your work as much as I admire yours."
The two seemingly went at it guns blazing at first, questioning the other's judgment about decisions made in certain scenes. Newell fired up a clip from Cloverfield showing the Statue of Liberty's head falling into the street. He said he understood the "device" Abrams was using, but as a gamer, he would throw the camera down and "fucking run" (second that).
"I hear you," Abrams said. "First of all, the logic of someone continuing to shoot, if you go to YouTube, you see plenty of examples of 'Why don't they just fucking run?'"
Abrams then pulls up a clip from Half-Life 2 where Gordon arrives in City 17 and meets up with Alyx, Dr. Kleiner and Barney at the lab. The three NPCs convey the storyline while Gordon picks up things like plants and books.
"So you've got story going on, but you've got a character throwing shit and teleporting things,"Abrams observed.
But Newell pointed out that players are the architects of their own amusement, that they're in control and making their own choices, which is important. Backing that, Abrams pulls up another Half-Life 2 scene when Gordon meets Eli for the first time. After a short dialogue, Eli tells him to look around, so Gordon throws a grenade at her.
"Does Gordon know him or not?" Abrams said, pointing out that there's no real connection between Gordon and the NPC. "Films are at least capable of having good dialogue."
To read the full dialogue, Polygon did a live blog Wednesday morning which can be read here. It's entertaining and definitely builds you up to the big surprise at the end.