August 8, 2037 CE, four decades after the end of the Seven Hour War and the day following total female extinction, an average middle-aged man finds himself stranded between insurgents and paramilitary forces after his train is bombed during a routine relocation.
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Still Here

News 11 comments

It's been a long period of silence since my last post. I've done a lot of thinking and dreaming since then. I recently learned my rather bizarre dreams may be a side effect of quetiapine, a prescribed antipsychotic I've been taking for years now. One recent dream I was in some kind of underground train station, rotting corpses were scattered about, they looked like they were people fused incorrectly with mechanical appendages. A few of them were even still alive, unable to move as the dysfunctional machines fused into them rendered them immobile. At one point in the dream I somehow gained control of this electronic circuit network, but by "gain control", I mean, it literally became a part of my nervous system. It was difficult controlling the circuit using seemingly unmapped muscular commands, like trying to squint with a third eye.

Anyway, concerning more relevance to Above the Catacombs, I have decided to change several aspects of the alternate history. For starters, I have made the world divided purely by imperialist nations, rather than divided between regional powers. Originally, the pre-war world (before the Seven Hour War, in which the Universal Union invaded) was much more optimistic and included several ideal communist societies. I have decided that those societies did not fit the overall theme of the canon, which deals with corrupt ideologies that have pushed societies to the extreme.

The pre-war world can be described as being divided by two main ideologies:

Corporate fascism: Power and wealth is centralized in the hands of a few corporations, with some competition being permitted on a small scale between small businesses. Independent labour unions are effectively illegal, workers' rights non-existent. The poor are viewed as lazy and incompetent, worthy of their poverty and ill health. The rich are viewed as enlightened and industrious and receive ample tax breaks and subsidies. Any and all opposition is attacked with slander and or routinely imprisoned. This ideology commonly disguises itself as "capitalism", "democracy", "freedom", "conservatism", and or "common sense". In the real world, this ideology is typically known as "neo-conservatism", "neo-liberalism", or "crony capitalism".

Welfare fascism: Power and wealth is centralized in the hands of a few government officials, with virtually all forms of economic activity under state control. Independent labour unions are effectively illegal, workers' rights non-existent. The poor are viewed as humble and industrious and are provided the bare necessities for as long as the inefficient economy can afford to. The rich are viewed as parasites and greedy and are either eliminated or exiled. Any and all opposition is attacked with slander and routinely imprisoned. The state seeks to expand its influence and power over other countries without their consent. This ideology commonly disguises itself as "socialism", "democracy", "equality", "communism", and or "liberation". In the real world, this ideology is typically known as "Marxism-Leninism", "state socialism", or "state capitalism".

It should be of course noted that the ultimate purpose of both ideologies is to mislead their subjects and dilute the meaning of their opposing ideologies. Under corporate fascism, capitalism's free market axiom becomes inseparable from an economy dominated by private feudal oligopolies. Under welfare fascism, socialism's axiom of workplace democracy becomes inseparable from an economy dominated by a bureaucratic "party" that consists mainly of military and secret police officials.

Under both ideologies, the economy is centralized and the governing class obtains their wealth from the working masses, who work for meager pay and are subject to inhumane working conditions. There is no democracy, there is no equality, nor is there any real competition. If anyone outside of the elite class benefits it is purely accidental or used as a means of bribery to ensure continued complacency. If any considerable opposition arises, it is either bought out or eliminated through force. Crimes committed against poor people are largely ignored or considered evening entertainment, while crimes committed against elite members of society are considered tragic and disproportionately serious. The jails are subsequently crowded by the poor, who rot in squalor and poison themselves with "recreational" drugs in effort to escape a reality that does not offer choice.

Anyway, back on track...

International Workers' Republic propaganda

Protestant Republic of America propaganda

Protestant Republic of America propaganda


Above displays various propaganda billboards from the Protestant Republic of America and the International Workers' Republic. Some of them will be used in the introduction, which has been revised slightly since the last newsletter. Fortunately, I managed to make a fairly solid outline for the beginning of the modification, so hopefully I will be more productive in the future.

For now on, I will be posting newsletters monthly (every 4 weeks) - at least that's the plan.

Earth


This is the Earth in Above the Catacombs. It looks almost like an antique globe. Its oceans have been drained by the Combine, resulting in global desertification and massive dust storms. You may see an outline of its former continents. This view of Earth will be visible in the introduction sequence.

Read more: Freedom4gamers.com

Week 159 Newsletter

Week 159 Newsletter

News

I'll keep this short. Last week I expanded the geometry of the oil rig you saw last week.

Week 158 Newsletter

Week 158 Newsletter

News 2 comments

I made major strides last week as I managed to complete my first model, completely ready for in-game "use" with a collision model and all.

Week 157 Newsletter

Week 157 Newsletter

News

This week I have done a little bit of modelling and managed to create a new music track intended to be a "stinger" (transition music).

Still Alive

Still Alive

News 2 comments

Above you see the finished Blender model of a pipe I will try to import into Source.

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Alpha 0.73

Alpha 0.73

Demo

Seventh alpha release for Above the Catacombs, recommended for testing purposes only.

Alpha 0.4

Alpha 0.4

Demo 7 comments

Second alpha release for Above the Catacombs, recommended for testing purposes only. You must have Half-Life 2: Episode Two installed in order to play...

Alpha 0.3

Alpha 0.3

Demo 10 comments

First alpha release for Above the Catacombs, recommended for testing purposes only. You must have Half-Life 2: Episode Two installed in order to play...

Comments  (0 - 10 of 50)
jorcastro
jorcastro

My game is missing chapters on the first ingame loading back to main menu

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EyesShut Creator
EyesShut

So, you have gone past the green "EXIT" sign door and it has returned you to the main menu? If so, that is intentional; it is all that is playable at the moment. For a future release, I should script closing text to confirm to the player that being ejected back to the main menu screen is normal.

If I assumed wrong, please let me know, thanks for reporting your issue.

Reply Good karma+1 vote
CW3D
CW3D

Oh wow, this looks very good! Why have I not seen this before? Tracking.

Question, will there be new enemies? I think the Cremator would fit the game's dark and creepy tone. Imo anyway :P

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EyesShut Creator
EyesShut

There won't be any new enemies as far as artificial intelligence goes, but there will be plenty of environmental threats to the player. As for the "Cremator", the intention of this modification is not to emulate the atmosphere of the Half-Life 2 "beta". Although I have certainly been inspired by many of the earlier designs of Half-Life 2, I am going for a far more political setting.

Above the Catacombs is set (at least the Introduction chapter) in a former industrial megalopolis, home to many past megacorporations (such as "Fried ***", a fast food chain). In addition to political undertones, the focus of the modification is on the human struggle in a post-Seven Hour War setting. There won't be too many "synths" or other alien creatures present in the modification.

Lastly, the Universal Union in the modification is not very concerned about the state of affairs on Earth as overwhelmingly most of the suitable humans have already been converted. The ones that remain are predominantly old and at least somewhat mentally unstable. The remaining humans have been pretty much left to their own demise, with only a partially functioning police state in place.

I do appreciate your suggestion however.

Reply Good karma+3 votes
spikeops
spikeops

btw if you atleast wanna try and loophole a cremator into the story later in development then try this: over the decades they created what we know as a cremator! (dont have to do this but just trying to help)

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EyesShut Creator
EyesShut

While I understand the liking of cremators, as they are a very menacing concept, they don't fit particularly well in this kind of story. The idea for Above the Catacombs is that the humans on Earth have been left mostly to their own demise, with only a minimal level of infrastructure in place to control the remaining sterile survivors. The Combine are just not concerned enough about keeping the streets clean as the remaining humans are of little interest to them. They are more concerned with extracting the Earth's resources and harvesting/colonizing the rest of "our" universe. If they manage to get a few more human converts before the species' inevitable extinction once the last die out, they would simply see that as a very - very - small bonus.

Still, I appreciate the suggestion.

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spikeops
spikeops

Hey i would like a hl2 beta mod though! I think you are MORE than capable! And it would make a good 2nd project!

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EyesShut Creator
EyesShut

There are many things about the Half-Life 2 leak and its concepts that I find interesting and have adapted for my own use (such as the more barren wasteland). However, I wouldn't be interested in trying to faithfully piece it all together due to several problems. The biggest problem with trying to "recreate" the "beta" is that there are too many holes to fill and the content that has been provided is incredibly messy and mostly unfinished. Furthermore, you could argue Above the Catacombs itself is very "beta-esque" already, just with an added political twist. There is also the problem of trying to emulate someone else's vision. I do not share the same vision that Valve has for the Half-Life universe, I simply couldn't genuinely create something from their viewpoint. If I am going to work on any hobby of mine, it has to be done according to my values, which means, lots and lots of propagandizing. This means that even if I were to create a version more similar to the leaked content, it would still contain overt and covert political content, which would differ greatly from Valve's mostly apolitical work (apart from containing general anti-authoritarian messages).

Lastly, over the years I have made several modified concept versions of the Half-Life series. Eventually, I decided to merge all my best ideas into one version and focus my attention onto that. I would it find far too difficult to try and create two separate full recreations of the Half-Life universe.

As always, I appreciate the suggestion.

Reply Good karma+1 vote
CW3D
CW3D

Ah nice. I can't wait to get around to this to play it, it's looking very promising ;3

Another question, will there be a steam release (greenlight) in the future? I don't mind if its not :P

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EyesShut Creator
EyesShut

Nope. It might be possible if they were willing to waive the submission fee for a free modification. However, every time I have tried to contact support about anything, it is like all my messages get sucked into a black hole.

One time I sent them an inquiry about licensing for Source, that was more than a year ago, no response.

I think you're more likely to get a message back from outer space.

Reply Good karma+1 vote
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