Pick up the crowbar of research scientist Gordon Freeman, and find yourself on an alien-infested Earth being picked to the bone, its resources depleted, its populace dwindling. You must rescue the world from the wrong you unleashed back at Black Mesa.

The original Half-Life sent a shock through the game industry with its combination of pounding action and continuous, immersive storytelling. Valve's debut title won more than 50 Game of the Year awards, was named "Best Game Ever" by PC Gamer, and launched a franchise which has since sold over 11 million units worldwide. By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original Half-Life and adding startling new realism and responsiveness, Half-Life 2 opens the door to a world where the player’s presence affects everything around him or her, from the physical environment to the behaviors and even the emotions of both friends and enemies.

Technical note: most mods “for Half-Life 2” are actually cross-compatible with all of Valve's Source engine games. Check a mod’s profile for details on whether a specific game is needed.

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Hello everybody!

As you might have seen in our recent teaser, the upcoming, overhauled version of G String will feature some proper spaceship action! The player will go into battle with allies to take on enemy vessels of various sizes and perform other tasks. If you didn't see the recent teaser yet, check it out:

We have been working on this for a while already and are now confident enough to present it as a definitive part of the game. Now, let's have a closer look at what's in store:


When designing the gameplay for the space battles, we prioritized making it quick and easy to grasp, because there is neither time nor place for any kind of tutorial or lengthy in-game instructions.

ricepod float 300

The first challenge we faced was designing the spaceship controls. We decided it would be most optimal to only use the key bindings that the player already knows. That includes moving the ship via W A S D in a similar manner as in firstperson mode and using the sprint button to boost the ship's speed. Concluding this, the longitudinal (roll) axis will be locked, which also makes sense storywise: you will be seeing the Earth right beneath you the whole time and the ship's stabilizers will align you to it. Aside from this, the primary weapons can be fired with the left mouse button and an autoaim system will additionally assist you while shooting enemies.

Since the Source engine isn't capable of any kind of open worlds by default, the whole world is scaled down by a factor of one-sixteenth to allow building a larger environment. But ultimately, the player still needs to stay within a predefined playable area. We solved this issue by simply tying its requirement into the story. Should the player still leave the area, they will either die or turn back automatically - something that we still need to finalize.


Overall a sturdy and outworn look is prevalent during the space scenes to match the rest of the mod. This includes the interior model of the spaceship and the ship's UI, which flickers a little and has a noise effect.

To make the battle scenes more appropriate for gameplay, we color coded a few crucial elements. The target UI highlights targets in red, yellow and green which represent enemies, neutrals and friendlies respectively. The laser colors from turrets and spaceships match the general color schemes of their models: enemies fire blue lasers while friendlies fire orange ones.

space combat


The ship's UI is made of holograms, which are based on a custom system we have programmed on top of VGUI. Source already offers a facility to render UI in world space (DrawPanelIn3DSpace in IMatSystemSurface for those of you who know their way around the SDK), but frankly it's not too appealing to look at or to use. Our solution renders everything based on dynamic meshes or models. VGUI is still used internally to draw text to a texture atlas which can then be drawn with a dynamic mesh as well.

space hud

Cascaded Shadow Mapping

We implemented a custom solution for cascaded shadow mapping just for the space environment. While most of the mod fares better with blurred, soft shadows due to the polluted air that scatters the light, the space scenes work well with sharper shadows. CSM makes it possible to have a higher quality shadow within the interior model of the spaceship while also allowing for shadows farther away.

shadow interior

Our CSM renders all cascades to a depth texture atlas, using the built-in flashlight depth texture rendering code to profit from all internal engine optimizations. The common world shaders, like LightmappedGeneric and VertexLitGeneric, will then sample one of those cascades to apply the shadow. Selecting a cascade is based on modifying the UVs prior to performing the sampling like in the following example:

// Check whether the projected UVs are outside of bounds of the first cascade.
// 0.0 will sample the far shadow map, 1.0 the close shadow map.
float blendCascades = step(shadowMapUVs.x, 0.49) * step(0.01, shadowMapUVs.x) *
  step(shadowMapUVs.y, 0.99) * step(0.01, shadowMapUVs.y);

// Select the cascade UVs.
shadowMapUVs.xy = lerp(shadowMapUVs.xy * cascadedStepData.x + cascadedStepData.yz, shadowMapUVs.xy,

This makes things a lot simpler and more optimized. You only need to worry about a single texture for all shadow maps and you don't need to use branching in the shader, which could potentially lead to way more lookup instructions in the compiled shader code.

While lightmaps won't be used in space, we still implemented support for them. While applying a lightmap, you cannot tell anymore which lights have been aggregated to a specific texture color, like you can easily do when rendering vertex or pixel lights. However, this is very much necessary to render a shadow that belongs to a specific light, like the directional sun light, because you only want to mask that specific light source. A more optimal solution would be producing a mask in VRAD, which could optimally be stored in the alpha channel of the lightmap, but this is simply not possible to implement in the 2013 SDK without access to the engine code.

shadow exterior

Instead, we are approximating the mask by calculating the light deviation from the expected ambient and light colors that were set in Hammer. If there is no deviation, the light will be fully masked, but the more the texture colors deviate, the less shadow will be applied. In the example above, you can see how the orange spotlight is still clearly visible in the shadowed area with this trick.


Since we are planning to support VR in G String, we also made the space environment compatible using an Oculus Rift. While the 2013 SDK already offers a certain support for VR by default, there were still a few special things to consider in our case.

The crosshair hologram, for example, moves with your head in VR and is aligned to the object you are currently aiming at to prevent a cross-eyed appearance. We also project the crosshair back onto the hologram aim panel sphere and align it accordingly, which feels a lot more natural than aligning it to a quad.

There are also a few neat extras to discover in VR when looking around the ship. You can see the jet engines brighten up when you accelerate the ship or the thruster effects at the sides of the ship when you turn or strafe.

If you are interested in checking out our code, you can take a look at our GitHub repository: www.github.com/Biohazard90/g-string_2013.

We are excited about finishing this mod and hope you will enjoy it when it comes out!

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Pick up the crowbar of research scientist Gordon Freeman, who finds himself on an alien-infested Earth being picked to the bone, its resources depleted, its populace dwindling. Freeman is thrust into the unenviable role of rescuing the world from the...
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Post comment Comments  (1490 - 1500 of 1,570)
Martman Mar 27 2004 says:

hey im martman and i was wondering how do i download games from this site because im new and im not sure

0 votes     reply to comment
timothyb Mar 22 2004 says:

Llogicpcs.net has custom map downloads and alpha screenshots

+2 votes     reply to comment
Pr0stSh0cKeR Mar 20 2004 says:

teh russian jacked it and maed a crappy halflife2 with the stolen source code

0 votes     reply to comment
Gene_Starwind Mar 8 2004 says:

wtf how'd u play it?

+2 votes     reply to comment
BiGDaWg12 Mar 4 2004 says:

I played the beta, and trust me this game is gonna kick so much ***. I can't wait for the full version.

+2 votes     reply to comment
RatoN Feb 25 2004 says:

I still have faith...

Mainly because I bought an ATI card, and I get it for free. (No, I would have bought it anyway).

But, I hope not to be disappointed.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Ducky511 Feb 23 2004 says:

I love seeing all my half-life addict friends fall apart when ever this game gets delayed again, and again, and again. I would think by know we all would know that Valve is bad at keeping a realse date. Its not that big of a deal eather. Its just a game, when its out, its out. Big Deal. I'm mostly likely going to buy it. But I'm not shaking with intisapation. I knew when I first herd about this game that in no way in hell was it coming out Sept 31.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Robo_Ronald Jan 28 2004 says:

Valve, plz don't make HL2 the next Duke Nukem Forever.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Yup Oct 15 2012 replied:

Duke nukem forever sucks mate

+1 vote     reply to comment
ytres May 10 2010 replied:


+1 vote     reply to comment
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Half-Life 2
Windows, X360, XBOX, PS3
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Released 2004
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5214 votes submitted.

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Highest Rated (24 agree) 10/10

Sadly it never ends for Gordon Freeman, he is gaming worlds Jack Bauer, consistently going from one bad day to the next. No sooner have you blown up the head of the Xenian Nihilanth and discussed career prospects with the mysterious G-Man than he tosses you in the mix again. Another train ride another mysterious situation leaving Gordon (and you the gamer) none the wiser, but thats what we like about the Half-life series and all it's canonical universe, Valve will always give you a Palm d'or plot…

Dec 21 2010 by newnowmusic

Lowest Rated (8 agree) 1/10


Dec 22 2010 by MasterBandit

First Person Shooter
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