* Updated: Wanted to include a link to MS Research lecture on using the Half Life 2 Game Engine in Academia

Question: What do you get when you combine what's been described as "The Best Game Ever Made" (Half-Life 2) and Visual Studio? 
Answer: Pure Joy  

Brian Keller, my rock star partner-in-crime for Visual Studio Express, officially announced at TechEd Australia how Microsoft and Valve Software (makers of Half-Life 2) are working together in TechEd Australia yesterday. From the joint press release:

Today at Microsoft® Tech•Ed Australia, Microsoft Corp. announced that Valve Corp.®, creator of award-winning game franchises “Half-Life®” and “Counter-StrikeTM,” has named the upcoming Microsoft Visual C++® 2005 Express Edition as the preferred development environment for hobbyist Windows® developers creating modifications for SourceTM, the engine on which “Half-Life 2” is built. In addition, during Tech•Ed Australia, attendees will get to hear how Team Dystopia created its modification for “Half-Life 2” with Visual C++.

Team Dystopia, makers of a Cyberpunk Half-Life 2 mod gave five presentations on modding Half Life 2 at TechEd Australias. Here's a picture of the team at TechEd.

Not only that, to help support Half-Life 2 modders, we also launched the Half-Life 2 Mod Spot on Coding4Fun!

If you've never heard of Half-Life 2, they are literally the #1 PC Game of all time on MetaCritic. Here are just a couple of the glowing reviews: 

  • This game is so close to flawless it's painful to the eye. It's so beautifully constructed, so immaculate, I can barely bring myself to divulge its details...Simply the most essential gaming experience of the year, the game the entire FPS genre has been building towards for the past decade, and one of the defining moments of the videogame medium as a whole.
    -
    Computer and Video Games
  • No other game does as many things as well as Half-Life 2; I had so much fun that I can forgive the game its abysmal ending. I was continually enthralled and amazed.
    -
    New York Times
  • History in the making. It raises the bar for interactive entertainment, and then uses that bar to club all other games into submission...Valve has forged the framework for the next generation of games, demonstrating what our medium can and should be able to accomplish - an exhilarating entertainment that can emotionally move you one moment, kick ass the next, and keep you immersed the whole time.
    - PC Gamer [Dec 2004, p48]
  • Half-Life 2 hits the ground running and never stops, and playing it for long periods of time can actually be exhausting. Just when you think you've seen the coolest thing it has to throw at you, the next sequence tops it.
    -
    G4-TechTV

And we're just getting started :)