Half Life 2: Raising the Bar REDUX: Update V3.3
Hi, everyone. In Update V3.3, we’ve extensive work done by our character modeller to show, as well as redesigns of a few crucial gameplay items, our new MP7 model, new animations for some of our heaviest weaponry, concept art of a key map prop we’ll be acting on in the near future, and, as always, great map progress.
As with last update, we’ve taken on a number of new people in the last few weeks. In programming, we have Milkyderp and Scart (the latter of whom was accidentally missed out from the last update, but his contributions so far is such that he definitely deserves special mention). In modelling, we took on Saatvik Dube, some of whom’s work you’ll get to see today. In level design, we took on ThatsRidonkulous, who got to work on the trainstation. In voice acting, we took on Sam Warren and Caleb West, who are voice acting our Barney and G-Man respectively. Finally, in animation, we took on Anomidae, who will be animating the new creatures we have our character modeller working on.
Starting off small – you might recognise the medvial from a few updates back. The texture was primitive and the model could also do with improvement. Saatvik, upon joining the team, went to work on the health vial and enhanced the model, as well as creating a brand-new texture for it. Little details like this can make-or-break immersion in gameplay, which is why we’re happy our medvial finally got the treatment it deserved.
Headcrab Concept Models
Retail-Inspired Headcrab Render
Retail-Inspired Headcrab In-game
Leak-Inspired Headcrab Render
Leak-Inspired Headcrab In-game
The first of the creatures Andy went to work designing and experimenting with was the default headcrab. Aiming for two skins – one based off of retail, and one based off of early iterations of it – Andy delivered a new and unique take on headcrabs. The opinion on the team is broadly positive on the change of design, although it is by no means final. We do, however, intend to wait for his interpretations of the fast and poison headcrab before we pass a solid judgement on the set, and we expect these will be ready for a showcase in January. We acknowledge the design is different and steps away from Half-Life’s design, but we think it is a good redesign, and want to see where the thought process goes before stopping prematurely what could be good ideas.
Heavy Weapon Animation Updates
As previously mentioned, our heavy weapons – the GR9 and OICW – have both been subject to new sounds and animations by Joshua Kardian and Peardon Peace respectively. These have gone some way to helping the weapons feel satisfying to use, particularly the improved GR9 animation set. Take a look:
GameSmert has made further improvements to Lab02, detailing the lab itself, as well as making good progress on scenes for the map. He’s also begun work designing a scene for our opening G-Man speech, the first line of which is voiced by Caleb West. You can watch them here:
Lab02 Progress Video
G-Man Progress Video
Half-Life Inspired Houndeye Render
Half-Life Inspired Houndeye In-game
Leak Inspired Houndeye Render
Leak Inspired Houndeye In-game
Another creature worked on by Andy is the iconic Houndeye. For this – as has been our approach with all our creatures – we wanted alternate skins that drew inspiration from multiple official sources for the Houndeye, allowing our mappers greater opportunities for detail. Here, you can see the traditional variant, with yellow-tinged skin and blue-hued sonic ridges along its spine, and also the Half-Life 2 leak variant, with more orange-tinged skin and red-hued sonic spine ridges. You’ll see a similar – and greatly expanded – thought process with our bullsquid models later in the update.
Consul Plaza Progress
Taking into account feedback from the previous update regarding lighting and detailing, Honza has begun filling out details on the building brushes scattered around the consul plaza to add more depth to the urban cityscape present, as well as to create a more vivid and visually varied environment to explore. Gameplay tweaks, as well as an early version of a consul statue you can see in the background, have been just some of the new additions added into the map. For now, progress detailing the map is being put on hold to prioritise the development of the inner canals, with the intent being for two or three of our level designers to conduct a broad art pass on all maps in chapter one prior to a demo release of the first chapter.
Suit Battery Model
Next, we’d like to showcase another item prop we redesigned – the suit battery. Wildchee took into account the suit battery present in the leak files (which was simply Half-Life’s) and the retail suit battery when merging these two, providing a suit battery design that is reminiscent of both old and new. Borja then conducted the texturing job on the model, bringing it to a good standard of quality, before it was then made ready for use in-game.
Free TVs Progress
Jonah has done phenomenal work refreshing and redesigning our old Free TVs map into a much more detailed and inspired take on the iconic map from the cut concept years. With custom models on the way and scripted sequences beginning to be set-up, the alleyways of city_test have seldom looked sharper, and this will only get better as Jonah dedicates more time to the map prior to wrapping it up with scripted sequences which set the stage for the player’s progression through chapter one.
New MP7 Model
Part of the work being done by modellers like Jared right now is modelling new weapon models that are entirely our own. Due to constraints on resources and skillsets, we previously had to made do with either improved leak file assets, or with royalty-free models sourced from around the internet. Jared’s first task involved taking the tried-and-tested design of the MP7 and making it our own, providing a merger of the leak (with the short, almost non-existent barrel), retail (with the holographic sight) and real-life counterparts of the weapon.
Trainstation Art Pass
ThatsRidonkulous’ role on the team thus far has been solely conducting art passes, using his advanced understanding of map detailing to spruce up the introductory map to the mod. His work on the initial platform the player arrives at, entry corridors and halls, and the iconic train pit has added substantially to the map and allowed it to reach that next level of immersion a solid first level needs. Having spruced this up as much as he feels is necessary at current, he has gone to work blocking out the Outer Canals – the third map in our second chapter – whilst we await other chapter one maps to be in a state ready for art pass duty.
Bullsquid Model Designs
Half-Life Inspired Bullsquid Render 1
Half-Life Inspired Bullsquid Render 2
Half-Life Inspired Bullsquid In-game
Half-Life Pre-Release Screenshots Inspired Bullsquid Render
Half-Life Pre-Release Screenshots Inspired Bullsquid In-game
Leak Inspired Bullsquid Render
Leak Inspired Bullsquid In-game
Aquatic Bullsquid Inspired Bullsquid Render
Aquatic Bullsquid Inspired Bullsquid In-game
Landsquid Inspired Bullsquid Render
Landsquid Inspired Bullsquid In-game
Half-Life Alpha Inspired Bullsquid Render
Half-Life Alpha Inspired Bullsquid In-game
Andy’s most substantial contribution to the team thus far has been his bullsquid creature designs. Taking the motif of “squid” further than that of “bull”, with features like the ridged tail, the arrow-head shape above its head, and the split irises, Andy has iterated on a fan-favourite design in a way the entire team is very pleased with. As icing on the cake, Andy designed six skin variants for the bullsquid, all based either closely or loosely off of all official valve concepts for the bullsquid known to exist. You can see here the Half-Life variant, as well as the Albino variant from exceedingly early pre-release screenshots and also the yellow variant from the so-called “Half-Life Alpha”. Then there is the red and aquatic bullsquids, based off of the designs featured in Half-Life 2’s leak files, and finally, we have an interpretation of the landsquid’s design, adapted to the bullsquid model. As the first sketch for the bullsquid ever conceived – and as it was done in colour – more of a creative liberty had to be taken, but given his limited reference, we think Andy succeeded in producing a skin worthy of implementation. Andy has been working solidly on creatures and we expect to showcase some more of his excellent work next update.
Vorticell Concept Art
Last but certainly not least, the vorticell is a popular and grim concept from the pre-release HL2 storyline, draining vortigaunts of their energy like organic batteries. As we already have a vorticell made out of brush geometry in our underground map and would likely use the concept in other places, too, we’ve decided to pursue our own concept art of the model and use this concept art to help design a proper model for it, too. This iteration is Rowan/Efil's handiwork.
And with that, we conclude our monthly update. This is easily our largest update yet, showcasing work from many corners of the team, and also demonstrates how our new team members are able to immediately and effectively get to work.
Before ending, we’d like to announce a few roles we’re looking for on the team at this moment:
- An experienced mapper (scripting, ideally knowledge of scene creation)
If this position interests you, please add me on discord at Merry Kralichmas#0901.
Thanks for your attention. Tune in next month for more!