After reading the initial reviews and comments on our first release of Aftermath, we've decided to make this article answering the most frequently asked questions about the mod, including what the mod is, where the content came from, and how we fixed it.
Q: Is this mod Episode Three?
A: No. This mod is just a collection of existing Half-Life 3 and Episode Three content made into a playable state by us; simple Half-Life fans.
Q: How did you get these maps?
A: In March of 2017, a user who had access to Valve's liscencee source files server leaked the full VMF (Valve Map File) sources of Half-Life 2: Episode One and Half-Life 2: Episode Two. Among these maps, in the Episode Two section, was a folder called "experiments". The 11 maps were last edited in 2012 and 2013 (system of dating explained below).
Q: Where did weapon_proto1 and the NPCs come from?
A: weapon_proto1, npc_wpnscanner, and npc_combine_armored all came from the same leak in 2012. The leak contained the entire source code of the 2007 branch of the Source Engine, which included a few Episode Three files here and there, dated around 2006. They were in the folders: /game/server/episodic/Episode3/ and /game/server/ep3/.
Q: Where did the name "Aftermath" come from?
A: "Aftermath" was the original published title of Half-Life 2: Episode One, when it was first revealed it in August of 2005. In February of 2006, it was officially renamed to Half-Life 2: Episode One.
Q: How did you date the maps?
A: Within the March 2017 leak, all the VMF files had all their "Last Modified" dates scrubbed and replaced with the same date of March 23rd, 2017. However, there is still a way to find the general time they were last touched by a mapper. In the header of every VMF file is a section which shows the version info of the VMF. One of the values is "editorbuild", a 4-digit number which is updated every time the map is saved by Hammer, Valve's level editing tool. This number corresponds to the date that version of Hammer had it's source code compiled. The number counts the number of days since October 24th, 1996, which was when the very first build of Hammer was compiled. When Valve is developing projects, they generally re-compile the source code of the game every day or every other day, and the team will update to the new build of all the tools and the engine. Because of this, maps last edited on a certain day will be marked with the build that was in use on that day. This system isn't accurate to-the-day, but it gives a general date that is true within 1 to 3 days.
For example, in the Half-Life 2 Leak, the "Last Modified" date in Windows for the map "airex_0102.vmf" is December 2nd, 2001. When calculated using the "editorbuild" number, we get November 30th, 2001. The system is quite useful for determining the dates of maps that had been edited by an external program (or had their "Last Modified" dates scrubbed).
The maps in the "experiments" folder range from November 28th, 2012 to June 20th, 2013. It should be noted that there is nothing in there that specifically calls them Half-Life 3 maps, however they are made with a Half-Life IP, and are long after the death of Episode Three, as confirmed by Gabe Newell in 2011.
Q: What's the difference between Episode Three and Half-Life 3?
A: Episode Three was meant to release in late 2007, and be a direct continuation to Episode Two, and complete the Half-Life 2 story arc. After that, the stage would be set for Half-Life 3. Since Episode Three never came out, the arc was never completed, and now there is a general confusion about the difference between the two games. In May 2011 in an interview with develop-online.net, Gabe Newell said that they had "moved beyond the episodic model" and they were "approaching the Team-Fortress 2 cycle" of updates and releases. This marks the death of Episode Three, although it may have happened as early as 2009, according to some rumors. Source 2's development started in the middle of 2013, right around the time these "experiments" maps were last touched. We will not be going into all the Half-Life 3 references in Source 2 that have been found, but they are certainly numerous.
Q: What is the point of Half-Life 2: Aftermath?
A: This mod functions as a "playable archive" of sorts; a showcase of most of Valve's leaked (and playable) content for the elusive Half-Life 3 and Half-Life 2: Episode Three.
We hope this article has cleared up most of the biggest misconceptions about Aftermath, as well as cleared up some of the doubts about our legitimacy. Thank you all for your tremendous support!