Half Life 2: Raising the Bar REDUX: Division 1.2 Release
Hey there, everyone. Today’s the big day – we’re shipping Division 1.2, the definitive release of RTBR! We’ve got so much we could talk about but we think it’s better you try it out for yourself. Nonetheless, we’re going to describe in a changelog here what happened across the board, summing up our updates over the last few months and describing other details we may not have gone into full detail on yet. When you play Division 1.2, if you’ve already left a review on previous releases of the mod, we implore you to take a look at your review and adjust it in light of the new release if issues you had with the mod were resolved.
First off, as we announced some time ago, we’ve migrated to the Mapbase branch of the Source Engine! This added huge amounts of tools for us to work with, from visual elements like projected textures and shader fixes, to improved logic entities to make use of in Hammer, to many back-end fixes and improvements to things like AI and long-standing bugs in Source. Mapbase has allowed us to really push our vision even further without having to sit down and make these engine modifications ourselves. Not only would we highly recommend you take a look at Mapbase, we’d suggest you use it for your own mods – it’s a vastly powerful set of tools that are a flat improvement over default Source. You can check out Mapbase here: Moddb.com
Mapping - Visual and Gameplay Overhaul
One of the key parts of Division 1.2 is the vast overhaul of maps and gameplay that has taken place. Visually we’ve pushed the aesthetics up considerably across the board – all maps receiving huge lighting improvements, much more map geometry, extra map props, and more. Gameplay in both combat and non-combat maps was also improved, with some maps receiving changes like extra telegraphing, and other maps – like Consulplaza01 and 02 – receiving total gameplay reworks to make them function better. In all maps, fog and our new Citadel model were implemented with much iteration to make both fit in and boost the visual quality further. A quick (and deliberately vague) sum-up of changes to all maps is as follows:
Intro: Updated G-Man speech with additional locations and improved visuals in these teleport sequences
Trainstation: New consul speech, vast lighting pass, and much improved map geometry, with additional scripted sequences
Terminal: Interiors received overhauls, many more scripted sequences, and outside areas received touch-ups and extra details
FreeTVs: Practically total visual rework with different gameplay progression and refinements to existing sequences
Industrial: Improved choreography and vast improvements to major vistas, as well as to underground areas and interiors
Lab01: Visual overhaul of the basement area as well as re-voiced Kleiner and improved visuals in Kleiner’s lab
Lab02: Total overhaul of the teleportation sequence with new particle effects and big visual improvements in all teleportation locations
Construction01: Big improvements to interior areas in addition to gameplay rebalancing and notable touch-ups to exteriors and rooftops
Construction02: Overhaul of the map visually from the crane with all rooftops receiving much improved detail, and gameplay was tweaked to give better balancing, in addition to interior areas receiving visual upgrades
Consulplaza01: Additional sequences, gameplay overhauls regarding progression and combat with the helicopter, and much improved visuals in interiors with many improvements in the exteriors
Consulplaza02: Total gameplay and progression rework in the courtyard area and outside the arcade, big visual improvements to the interiors and lots of optimisation in exterior areas
Arcade: Some gameplay refinements combined with massive visual overhauls and additional sequences with citizens, combined with improved progression elements
Underground: Many visual improvements throughout and changes to logic to make the map sound better with stronger ambience
As you can see, even very vaguely, every single map received lots of attention to bring them all up to par. We covered the most common complaints and also brought up the visual standard across the board.
Narrative - Sequence and Story Refinements
One big complaint with Division One was the world didn’t feel alive – not enough scripted sequences, conversations, and optional narrative segments to make the world feel moving and breathing. As a result, all of the pre-combat maps received new sequences and refinements to existing sequences, and even combat maps received more detail in the world-building and narrative sequences, like Consulplaza01 and Arcade, to make these areas and regions feel more alive. Freeman’s war path to escape City 17 isn’t without casualties or observers, now. Of course, our extended G-Man sequence, combined with totally new speech sequences and choreography from our Consul voice actor, also help sell RTBR better as its own foray into the universe.
Programming - Backend Refinements and Frontend Features
Whilst many ideas we wanted to handle with programming were handled by Mapbase, we also made a great many changes ourselves. Iridium77 graduated from level designer to programmer in making huge overhauls to our cremator AI. Whilst still requiring some additional work, it’s a considerably more interesting NPC now. In addition, many new features like unique muzzle flashes, particle effects, and more that required code implementation have been possible thanks to Iridium’s work.
Models - Fulfilling the Vision
Of course, we’ve shown much more of our new models in the run-up to this release. There’s all the big ones we’ve noted – like, for example, the metrocops and helicopter – but even since the last twitter post we’ve been sorting out loose ends. Whilst we’re not on total asset parity just yet, 1.2 is significantly closer to our end goal of a full visual style overhaul from HL2, and Division 2 will be more going forwards.
However, new models are not the only change we’ve made here. Thanks to Iridium again, we’ve programmed in first-time pickup animations in addition to idle animations. This gives the arsenal a lot more personality – far more than before, animations have flair and make the arsenal stand-out more on its own.
Particles - Smoke and Mirrors
Thanks to our new particle artist Randomcatdude and our previous particle artist Omi, we’ve got massively revised particle effects across the entire Division. Muzzle flashes, tracers, teleporter effects, and environment ambient particle effects have all been created with loving attention to detail to further inform our visual style, and make our maps and models stand-out even better.
Graphic Design - Bringing the World to Life
As we showed in our previous big article, we’ve made many new graphical assets to make the environment pop and be more unique. New propaganda posters, graffiti, signage and more are all implemented to make the world more personal to us and to RTBR.
Sounds - Voices and Booms
New sound effects for our idles and first-time pickups are a given; however, new sound effects for entities like the chopper, anti-chopper gun, and cremator have all been created. Not only that, but new voice acting for minor characters and major characters – like the consul and Kleiner – have been recorded. Most impressive, we think, is a total re-recording of all Metrocop lines twice – once for normal metrocops, once for elite metrocops. With both we took strong influence from vocoders present in the cut content files, and both have unique vocoders to help them stand out in gameplay and help their roles be more distinct.
Music - (To Your Ears)
Lastly, with Entity, CW3D, and our new composer Name, we’ve produced thirty more music tracks to be utilised in future Divisions but also within Division 1.2. You can check out the extra tracks over on our Soundcloud albums:
Join the Team!
Thanks, everyone, for sticking with us to here. We know it’s been a long time coming shipping this big update, and we’ve made tremendous overhauls that we think make this the definitive version of the mod. We’re going to be pushing forwards now on Division Two and beyond – learning from our improved workflow and from what we’ve done before to make future releases much stronger right out the gate. Before ending off, there’s a few roles we could use to supplement the team going forwards:
Level designers: As we push forwards on the rest of the mod, additional experienced level designers will help us keep up the pace. You’ll be working on either Division two or Division three, with more details about the map you’d be working on via DM.
Texture Artists: General purpose graphics designers/texture artists with experience creating decals, signage, or making new textures for models would be very helpful. You don’t necessarily need to know how to model, but this would be a plus.
If these roles interest you, please add me on Discord at Kralich#0901. Thanks everyone! Enjoy this updated release and stick around – we’re going full-steam ahead on Division Two and beyond!