Step aside, Doom — running Half-Life is the new test of a device’s mettle. Modder Dave Bennett has managed to get Valve’s seminal first-person shooter running on an Android-powered LG G smartwatch. (via Ars Technica)
Bennett — a computer science major with a YouTube channel about modding Android, Chromebooks, and Linux — used the SDLash app to emulate GoldSource, the game’s engine and predecessor to Valve’s popular Source engine. It’s more a proof of concept than a way that anyone would really want to play the classic game. It runs, but not consistently, and the 1.65-inch touchscreen controls don’t lend themselves especially well to the nuance necessary for first person shooters.
“At times, the game got as high as 30 FPS, and other times as low as 2 FPS,” Bennett explains on his blog, where you can find step-by-step technical instructions of how to do it yourself, if you are so inclined, though he advises against it. “Of course, things such as the lava graphics and special lighting caused a huge drop in FPS. Also, trying to play a game on Android Wear is a nightmare within itself. The app offers touchscreen controls, but on a 1.65-inch screen, they are almost impossible to use. Also, swiping to the left causes the screen to go back to the previous window. Are you still interested in doing this?”
Ever since id Software released the source code for its genre-defining Doom in the late ’90s, it has become standard practice for modders and hackers to get it running on digital devices not otherwise designed to play games — a sort of next-level “Hello World” program to demonstrate mastery over a system. Recent examples of nontraditional systems running Doom have included a Canon Pixma printer, a different Android smartwatch, and another copy of Doom itself.
Half-Life was first released in 1998, five years after the original Doom. With 3D graphics and an unprecedented use of scripted sequences to advance the story, Half-Life was a major step forward for the first-person shooter genre, and as such represents a logical next step for hackers to use now that the processors of most digital devices are powerful enough to make running Doom increasingly trivial.