For years, gamers have wondered when Valve might debut a new version of its Source
engine and next-generation games built to run on it. Now, we may have answer to that, thanks to leaked screenshots of what appears to be a rebuilt version of the classic Plantation level. If true, it represents an enormous step forward for the venerable Source engine, which debuted 10 years ago. While it's been upgraded several times, Valve has now used the core of the engine to power more titles than it built around the classic Half Life
engine (itself based on Quake
How big a jump? From this:
Obviously this could be a 3D mockup or a faked screenshot, but the news (leaked by Valvetime forum member CBOAT) comes from someone with a long history of accurate releases and valid leaked information. The other slides hint at new development tools and environments coming down the chain as well and the screenshot itself is about on par for a high-end DX11 engine, particularly one built in the 2011 era (the slides are several years old).
So... where is it?
In two years, we haven't seen hide nor hair of a new engine from Valve, though it was hinted that we might see such a project with Steam Box
. But consider the timelines: Windows 8 began to pop up on the radar a few years ago, and Gaben's vituperous dislike of the OS drove him to create his own Linux distribution in response to ill-considered fears about Microsoft locking down the PC gaming world. At the same time, we've seen Valve expand its coverage into the Mac world -- another significant investment of resources.
Ramping the new Source 2.0 engine to take simultaneous advantage of all three operating systems could easily have taken several years and is the likely driver of the delay, particularly if Valve
wants to have new titles ready to go when it finally pulls the trigger on the new engine. Hopefully this means that when the new games / new engine do debut, we'll see it on multiple titles at the same time, across all platforms, with full support for DirectX
baked in out of the box. Such a move would be the easiest way for Valve to ensure that Steambox is treated like an equal partner going forward -- get the engine fully optimized under both APIs, and you've got an easier path to the future of development.